Naha Armády on the Founding of 22 Teachings School of Magic & the Transformative Power of the Occult

Introduction

I am excited to share this new interview with Naha Armády, founder of the magical school 22 Teachings. 22 Teachings began as a passion project driven by Naha’s deep connection to the Western esoteric tradition and her desire to steward the mysteries forward. What started as a small study group has blossomed into a thriving school and community that provides comprehensive training in ceremonial magic and the Hermetic arts. Naha’s journey has not been without its challenges, yet her perseverance and commitment to self-mastery shines through. In her interview, she openly shares both the mystical and the grounded, weaving together stories of otherworldly experiences with practical advice for the aspiring student of the arcane arts. Please enjoy!

Interview

PAA: Can you share with us your personal journey and how you became involved in the field of
Hermetic science and magical arts?


One night near the end of 2003, a friend took me to an esoteric salon hosted by some occultists in Seattle, one of whom was William Kiesel of Ouroboros Press. Although I was dragged along rather reluctantly, once arriving at the apartment I was impressed by the extensive library of rare books, and the alchemical apparatus bubbling away in the kitchen. My friend had coaxed me with the promise of tarot discussion, the only occult knowledge I possessed at the time, and little did I know that my entire life was about to change, and that the tarot would become a gateway for me to discover Hermetic Qabalah and ceremonial magic. These meetings evolved into a magical working group, and the seven of us met weekly for the next several years of study, training, and ritual practice. William became my mentor and I have been dedicated to the path ever since. Due to William’s literary scholarship, from his tenure as an occult publisher as well
as proprietor of rare books and founder of the international Esoteric Book Conference, I was taught to seek original source materials, and early on I was regularly given books to absorb by many of the greats including Regardie, Hall, Levi, Case, Crowley, and Dion Fortune. I sought out the works of Papus, Bardon, W.E. Butler, and of course the many wonderful titles that William published.

Around this same time through another teacher I was introduced to Lakota Blackfoot elders, attending sweat lodges and learning Native American teachings. I practiced yoga by day and at night I was deeply involved in the music and club scenes Seattle has always been known for. At the time renown alchemist Robert Bartlett was releasing his first book Real Alchemy and I was able to study with him at his property, collecting cow dung to burn as fuel as we made “oil of egg” and learned the science of spagyrics. Living in Seattle was very conducive to being a hermit and a spiritual seeker; dark nights in the temple by the light of the oil lamp, performing the Middle Pillar Ritual as the seven of us stood in a circle in our black robes, which we had sewn ourselves from the traditional template of the Tau Cross.

Several years into our work together, we were preparing to undertake Pathworking upon the Tree of Life, and I viewed it as a milestone that marked what we had been working towards all of those years. The week before we were set to commence, a rift occurred within the group, and the split was irreconcilable. The group disbanded and the teachings and ritual work ended abruptly. This was one of the most traumatic and difficult steps I had to take thus far, as the tower of my secret world fell and my alchemical wedding became an allegorical divorce. For the next few years I stumbled on, a solo practitioner. Without my group and my regimen, I let the nightlife get the best of me, and dove deeper into alcoholism and drug use, and general debauchery.

As I drudged around in the material world, I finally met someone who helped me to find my way to A.A – not the Thelemic Order, but the 12 step meetings. Now the big blue book I held was not Crowley’s Book 4 but the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. As I read the 3rd step prayer:

“God, I offer myself to thee, to build with me and do with me as thou wilt, relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do thy will…”

I couldn’t believe my eyes – this was Qabalah! “…Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do thy will always, Amen”

I was shocked how familiar this sounded. Was this not the same fundamental meaning of Ve-Gevurah, Ve-Gedulah, Le-Olam Amen?!

I committed to the program and by the end of 2009 had cleaned the drugs and alcohol out of my body and have been sober ever since. I consider my completion of the 12 steps to be one of the most important initiations and magical workings I have ever performed.

PAA: What inspired you to establish 22 Teachings?

With my new clean life I moved to Los Angeles, the city of my birth. At first, I worked as a poker dealer and as a DJ, just as I had in the Northwest. But I knew that these lifestyles were not going to sustain me and I continued to repeat the third step prayer daily. I began attending the Builders of the Adytum Sunday services, with its small congregation and beautiful temple.

Walking in and seeing the black and white pillars, the checkerboard floor, the giant Tree of Life and the tarot keys lining the upper wall felt like home. Within months I began working at a new metaphysical shop where the owners encouraged me to develop a healing practice. I continued to seek magical training. I went to meetings at the Gnostic society and the Besant Lodge. I was trained in reiki and crystal healing and kundalini yoga, and I developed my clairvoyance, as I studied with shamans and diviners.

Yet these trainings deemed only peripheral to my true path as a magician in the Western Mysteries. I found there was a need for teachings in Hermetic Qabalah so I felt encouraged to bring these teachings forward. I began with a Tarot Course, and I hosted a monthly middle pillar ritual which would also form the foundation of my private healing practice. Eventually, the shop I worked at opened a temple space and classroom, and even offered me a private room to see my clients. To this day, much of the training I receive from the guides comes through the one-on-one middle pillar sessions that I conduct and originally developed based off of Regardie’s methods with the integration of the many modalities I had learned.

As my handful of students grew, I chose the name 22 Teachings as the banner under which I would continue to expand my curriculum. Eventually I selected a hand-picked group I called the Oracle Circle. This group, like my original working group in Seattle, was subrosa, and included training in the Qabalistic tree of life, hexagram rituals, and more advanced and talismanic use of the Tarot keys.

I have to admit, that in the back of my mind I never forgot about Pathworking, and it felt like unfinished business. I dreamt of building a group of committed students to take them through the pathworking process, simply so that I could finally do it myself, but there would be more gaps to cross before that. After taking two rounds of initiates through the year-long Oracle Circle training, I was contacted by astral guides who began instructing me to establish an occult Lodge. As truly inconceivable as it was to think I could do such a thing, the directive was potently clear.

I accredit all further inspiration for the school to come from this higher council. I never wanted to, planned to, or imagined I was capable of establishing a school, let alone an occult Lodge, but there I was, conducting my monthly group healing ritual when the Red Robed Ones appeared before my eyes, standing at the altar on the Spring equinox on the solar eclipse of March 20th, 2015.

Less than 2 years later, auspiciously upon Tu Bishvat: The New Year of the Trees in the Hebrew calendar, I dedicated the Arboretum Mysticum, a self-initiatory Occult Lodge of high magic. I had enough advanced students to pack the temple, with upwards of 50 people every week during the first year. This same year 22 Teachings became incorporated, and thus the 22 Teachings School of Hermetic Science and Magical Arts was brought into a more formal designation. The A.M. Lodge began with a series of workings with the Major Arcana, and continued on through the chapters of the Kybalion, Sefer Yetzirah and Mystical Qabalah; we evoked the Elementals from Transcendental Magic and other mystical figures and guides, and explored every letter of the Alephbet, and every path of the tree, and each time the working neared the end, the guides would show me the next objective.

By June of 2018, I stood before the altar in the smoke of storax and oakmoss, as I officiated the
first Pathworking, into the astral temple of Malkhut:

We are about to embark on a profound journey following the path of the Serpent. As the motto of the
Arboretum Mysticum states, KAIROS KAI SYNCHRONIA. The groundwork is set. The Temple is prepared.
The Stars are aligned. The Magicians are gathered.

From that point forward, every step of the school’s growth was either direct instruction from the guides or a response to the situation at hand. In the following year, during an invocation of Jupiter, a heavy rain which had been falling for days broke the ceiling of the temple space open and we were “flushed out of the building”. Message received, it was time to leave the nest and open a place of my own.

The search began and within months I signed the lease on 1st St. When it comes to high magic, I believe in doing the work for the sake of itself and my own evolution, and not with some outer or tangible goal in mind. Yet the outer rewards manifest nonetheless. In a year and a half, we had completed the 33 pathworking ceremonies, and I accredit this working with the manifestation of our own brick and mortar school in the Arts District of Los Angeles, with its temple space aligned to the cardinal East, healing room, and classroom filled with the most sincere, humble, determined, and compassionate student body I could imagine; serious seekers who vibrate the names as adepts, who ask thoughtful questions in lecture, who share visions and insights in fellowship and community. The friendships I’ve watched emerge are deeply gratifying to see, especially since so many arrive feeling alone or outcast in their interests, or longtime solo-practitioners or skeptical of magical communities.

When the pandemic hit, and my hand was forced once more, I opened the temple and teachings to online students. This was a choice I would never have made myself, as I was not big on technology and had no interest in growing beyond the student body I already had cultivated in Los Angeles. Of course, this turned into one of the greatest blessings ever as access was granted to students around the world who were looking for the mysteries presented in an academic model. I also was able to introduce teachers I admire to my students as they were able to participate remotely. Though we were unable to do in-person events during this period, I held onto the physical school and for these years it operated not as a classroom but as a symbolic monument. The building provided a physical structure and point of orientation for our online collective, and I never lost faith that in time, it would be the right decision.

By the time we were able to return to in-person classes, and the blue door marked with a gold 22 opened again, we had a vast library of recorded trainings as well as students across the country and other continents, who we call our luminaries. Our events are now a combination of in-person and online. In the last four years, 22 Teachings has grown to a curriculum of hundreds of classes, courses and ongoing series, extensive magical workings, establishment of two school holidays, field trips abroad including Egypt in 2022, a school newspaper, a book club, an occult salon, a recovery group, publications, study hall, ritual trainings, student assemblies, roundtables, guest lecturers, musical guests and artists, a mercantile filled with magical tools and reliquary, and an incredibly potent temple space where we honor the Divine and the adepts in whose footsteps we walk.

For the past two years we have hosted William for multiple teaching residencies and in an incredible full circle way, dare I say ouroboros, he has come on as a faculty member of the school. The current staff and faculty including Nesrin Arican and A.M. Penn are not only some of the most powerful magicians I have ever had the honor of practicing with, they are some of the most hard-working, compassionate and welcoming people in a field which can be daunting to enter.

PAA: How would you describe the core principles and philosophy that underpin the teachings and
practices at 22 Teachings?


Our philosophy can be summarized by our Lodge dedication:
To be propagators of truth, conduits of light, seekers of wisdom and vessels for Spirit. As far as my personal philosophy, I like to say common sense before magic. Begin with groundedness, end with gratitude. Commit to the art of becoming, rather than attaining. I see the Great Work as a life-long magical act; the process of continual evolution. In the pursuit of true wisdom, information alone is not enough, knowledge requires practice. And as the guides have prompted me, I pray for the well-being of all souls. I believe in absolute responsibility in ritual work, especially invocation. As a theurgic magician, I invoke guides that work in 100% pure light. Yet I recognize the light to contain the infinite spectrum of the All, co-creating with Archangels and deities as the many facets of God.

PAA: What sets it apart from other esoteric schools or traditions?

22 Teachings does have its own magical system, built upon the work of influential groups like the Rosicrucians, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and Builders of the Adytum, but also with our own unique practices, forms, and rituals. Two powerful rituals unique to 22 Teachings are the Qabalistic “Invocation of the Keys” and the Hermetic “Rite of the 6-Rayed Star”. While we are not a “Golden Dawn School”, I do carry an initiatory spark in my lineage back to the original order, and some rituals we execute in the traditional style like the LBRP and Rose Cross ritual, while others, like the Solar Adorations for instance, have changed and evolved due to my own explorations and research in Egypt and having access to ancient material that was not available at the time of the writing of Liber Resh.

As I believe the Western Mysteries to be a living tradition, I consider it my job to assist the tradition to evolve where it is appropriate, while still honoring and upholding origins. For instance, I found much of the Hebrew words and formulas to be disparate across texts, due to the lack of accurate transliteration. Thus I brought in a Hebrew teacher to offer classes and private training. What we ended up getting from this was so much more than just corrected pronunciation, for she brought stories and inner wisdom that only a native Hebrew speaker with decades of teaching experience could illuminate.

Above all, we always strive to dig deeper, uncover more, aim higher, and get closer to God. I am not looking to set 22 Teachings apart from, but rather be connected to other practitioners, traditions and schools who share the same consciousness of the Light. I am more interested in our points of shared thinking than our points of divergence. I continually tell my students, not to think for one moment that our way is the “right way” or that our versions of the correspondences are better than an alternate school or way of thinking. Rather, we have a chosen set of correspondences and methods which work well for our
purposes, are well-researched and well-tested, and are charged by the nature of our egregore and the integrity of our student body.

One of my goals for the future of the school is to collaborate with other practicing Hermetic groups. Right now, we are planning our school field trip to Prague at the end of the year where we will be exploring the alchemical history of Bohemia and connecting with Czech practitioners. Also, on the horizon I see more publishing, greater scholarship opportunities, alumni offerings, and my greater dream of a larger permanent campus, with resources for continued research, an alchemical laboratory, outer grounds, and accommodations for teachers in residence and visiting students.

PAA: In your opinion, what are the key benefits and transformative experiences that students can expect to gain from studying and practicing Hermetic science and magical arts at 22 Teachings?

I see the existence of our school itself as a living example and testament of the miracle of Hermetic Magic. To live in a time where we are free to practice without fear of persecution is not something to take for granted, and I feel a responsibility to steward the mysteries forward for the initiates of future generations. I’ve seen the power of our school’s magical current, group practice and intention. It’s incredible to watch people step into themselves, gain confidence, and as the light comes on within them, hear their stories of how magic saved their lives, helped them heal, and find deeper purpose in life. And of course, in time, students become teachers.

We take on big operations, such as the work of the Shem Ha Mephorash: two years of research, analysis and invocation of each of the 72 names of God. A commitment like that requires dedication and accountability. These attributes build one’s personal constitution to become adept not only at magic but at life. And in these undertakings, we rise to the occasion, and support each other, through our many fellowship opportunities whether in-person or practicing remotely but still tapped into the same magical current. Even those who practice through the recorded material report the feeling of connection to the energies of the work.

PAA: Could you elaborate on the curriculum and courses offered at 22 Teachings? How are they structured to provide a comprehensive and progressive learning experience for students?

With our ever-expanding curriculum, there is some suggested structure, but students also have a lot of freedom to find their own path through the training based on their preferred areas of study. I believe education to be a circle and not a line. We do not have grades but we do have prerequisites and training which are laid out like University courses of level 100, 200 etc. There are many events open to everyone such as the ritual trainings, the A.M. Lodge, Lantern lectures, the book club, the mystical healing Aşk-i Şifa and our longest running event – the Middle Pillar ritual which is now in its 14th year.

Our practical coursework includes Alchemy, Tarot, Magic and Intuitive Development, Hermetic Qabalah, Rosicrucian Magic, Elemental and Planetary Magic, Mineral works, and Astrology. In order to take these semester-long courses, all students must complete a 2-day intensive training called Magic Fundamentals, which prepares students for deeper studies. It not only initiates students into the Western Mystery Tradition, it also builds an innate respect between the students, for they come into courses recognizing their shared foundation and experience. Because of this, we can get straight to the deeper work in the courses.

We also offer dedication passes, for commitment to longer workings. Currently these include the One Year Manual by Regardie facilitated by Jessica who runs our student-led book club, The Zodiacal hexads year-long middle pillar working, Dimensions of Reality: the Cube of Space, and Scrying in the Spirit Vision. Our next dedication begins in March with a 4-month working through the Kybalion, with weekly hermetic ritual to incorporate the teachings of every chapter.

PAA: As a practitioner and teacher, what advice do you have for individuals who are new to magical arts and are seeking guidance on how to begin their journey and establish a solid foundation?

My advice would be:

  1. Recognize the importance of having your mundane life in order the best that you can. The best results will not come from sloppy work, or a filthy environment. The material realm is not separate from the spiritual realm. So get your house in order, even if that just means a small area for meditation or writing, a little altar space, even if it is just a chair and a handkerchief on a table. Don’t work too much about gathering magical tools. The tools are easy to come by. The wisdom is not.
  2. Use discernment and find a good teacher, and don’t be afraid to take what they say with a grain of salt, until you can judge for yourself if their words and methods resonate. If something feels “off”, trust that feeling, and keep looking. A good teacher told me, always question your teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask “Why?” and don’t settle for “Because that’s just the way it is”. A good teacher should be glad you are asking questions, and they should make you feel empowered, and not reliant upon them.
  3. Recognize that while magical results are sometimes instantaneous, usually things take time and focused effort. Build patience, with your practice and with yourself. I can’t say enough about the importance of keeping a journal and tracking your results. The quick results are fine but they are not the end of the story, and in time you’ll see the larger arcs. Know thyself. Be honest and record when you felt sick, scared, or exhausted. Rest when you need to rest. Take time to integrate, it’s not a race. Track the seasons, the moon cycles, let nature be a teacher and learn of your own nature and find your rhythm as you discover each facet of your own microcosm, and every archetype within you.
  4. Do not be discouraged when you don’t understand everything right away. Understanding occurs in leaps and bounds. Sometimes you just need to keep showing up, and then one day, things click, and it is those moments when you see beyond the veil, you find that what was obscure actually starts to make sense and you understand that the point of this is so much more than you first imagined. Also, you don’t learn to swim without jumping in the pool, and you don’t master anything without making some mistakes, so I encourage people to learn by participating rather than only study and observation.
  5. Any career magician can tell you, you will reach an inevitable point of doubt. Fears of sacrifice. Challenges that occur with change. Worry that you are not worthy, or that it is all for nothing. Or that no matter how hard you try, you will never “get it”. Disconnection, discouragement, boredom! We all must face the dweller upon the threshold, not once, but at many stages along the way. And I can promise that if you persevere, if you face your fears and progress through those dark nights of the soul, that the sun does rise after this, and bring a lightness of being and a joy that cannot be explained except to those who have pushed through, and that is real initiation. William has always explained that the truest initiations are the ones that happen within the self, not given to you by any
    other person or validated by anything other than your own heart. I believe this to be the key to the inner Sun.
  6. Don’t be afraid to pray, and do ask for help. Some individuals may find it challenging to maintain focus during visualization exercises or to visualize with clarity.

PAA: What advice do you have for students who struggle with visualization? How can they overcome these challenges and strengthen their visualization abilities?

With any learning, there is also an unlearning process. There is a letting-go in order to see. Part of that is releasing the expectation of how the vision should appear. Some of the greatest results occur when you finally surrender. Build your interior temple. Build the light body and use your imagination, and as you do, you will develop your vision. One of the best techniques is to use your breathwork to sharpen the sword
of your mind and thus your focus. If you are willing to do the work, you will absolutely train yourself and establish focus. Your visions will become vivid and you will see the machinery of the universe. Any induced
hallucination will pale in comparison to the vision of a true adept.

Current working/final thoughts:

Right now I am leading a year-long working of Scrying in the Spirit Vision, with astral projections through the 25 doors of the Tattvas. It’s not beginner’s work. Everyone had to take breathwork training, LBRP training, ritual preparation and even paint their own set of tattva cards and then consecrate them. There are 51 of us that committed to the process. We are not only developing inner vision, but all of the inner senses – clairgustance, clairolfaction, clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairtangency, claircognizance. I’m deeply humbled and honored to be able to officiate this work.

As a teacher, I aim to assist my students to have discipline. My standards are high, and in turn, my students are amazing. My story and the story of 22 Teachings is just another example of darkness to light, again and again, and I didn’t become a disciplined practitioner naturally. And as much as I love being a
wizard I also love being a human. But I have found there is no more gratifying work than the Great Work, no deeper purpose than to do the Divine Will, and no more humbling and rewarding experience than to share these sacred moments with my students, my circle, and my sacred council.

In LVX
Sr. Kairos
Naha Armády

PAA: Thank you very much for generously sharing your journey.

Naha Armády

Faculty Head

Head of Faculty at 22 Teachings School of Hermetic Science and Magical Arts. She is the author of Everyday Crystal Rituals and co-produced On the Tarot: the Essays of Court de Gebelin with Ouroboros Press. All information available at 22teachings.com

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