Ceremonial Magick, Franz Bardon and the Golden Dawn

Seeking the Greater Mysteries: Ceremonial Magic, Franz Bardon’s Mastery, and the Golden Dawn Tradition

The pursuit of ceremonial magic holds both promise and peril. While systems like those of the Golden Dawn and Franz Bardon offer powerful tools for spiritual development, they also pose challenges for practitioners. In this post, we’ll explore some of those key issues and how the work of Andre Consciencia aims to address them.

If this post interests, you then you may also enjoy a question-and-answer article that Andre did in regard to his course ‘Ceremonial Magick and the Franz Bardon tradition‘. You can read it here.


Identifying the Challenge in Ceremonial Magick for Golden Dawn Practitioners

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was founded in London in 1888 by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, William Wynn Westcott, and William Robert Woodman, with influences from Hermeticism, Kabbalah, and ceremonial magic. It apparently offered a systematic approach to spiritual and magical development.

Members of the Golden Dawn practiced rituals, studied mystical and magical teachings, and suffered initiations. Although the order was extinguished due to internal conflicts in the early 20th century, many practitioners still adhere to its system.

The challenge is that the Golden Dawn was divided in three orders, The First Order taught Hermetic Qabalah and the study of the four classical elements, basics of astrology, tarot divination, and geomancy. The Second or Inner Order taught magic, including scrying, astral travel, and alchemy. The Third Order directed the activities of the lower two orders by spirit communication.

The teachings of the first order are widely available, the teachings of the second order are harder to truly access, and the methods of the third order are practically unavailable. Now, the first order teaches rituals and their application. Many branches of ceremonial magic sprang from the Golden Dawn, and mostly from the first order. The problem is the first order teaches not the application of magic at all, since ritualism is not magic in itself.

Rituals can produce magical effects, but they belong to the field of folklore. In other words, the rituals of the first order are exoteric, for they are exterior symbolizations of interior principles of which the candidate has no mastery and often no knowledge. The power of such rites is always the power of the rites of passage, and, important as they may be in the moment, they are feeble and temporary.

Ceremonial magic, in its true sense, depends on magic. That is, it depends on magical mastery. Magic may use folklore as a tool, but only a charlatan magician would depend on it.

So, in the Golden Dawn, particularly in the first order, we are faced with rituals that have esoteric imagery and symbology, but exoteric methodologies, making them ultimately exoteric, and this has produced a root issue of adulterated ceremonial magic with implications on traditions as far as Wicca and Thelema.

A ritual, in the field of magic, is but an encoded set of esoteric teachings, practices and tests that must be unblocked through experience, finally unlocking the ritual itself and making it something that can be practiced magically, that is, from the true core of the metaphycical principles implied, and from cause to verifiable effect.

The Second Order (Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis) gives us no comfort in the matter at hand, either. Although it teaches magic, it is hardly of the ceremonial kind.

Identifying the Challenge in Ceremonial Magick for Franz Bardon’s Practitioners

If anyone has taught serious ceremonial magic, it is Franz Bardon. However, Bardon is not likely to be associated with ceremonial magic at all. The apparent issue is that Franz Bardon has gone to the core of things to such an extent that readers reading on the surface won’t capture them at all.

In Initiation Into Hermetics he teaches the science of mudras and their relation to the classical elements. He calls it ritual. In The Practice of Magical Evocation he provides the generic ceremony for an evocation and the generic variants according to the different ranks and natures of the beings to be evoked, as well as the meaning and loading of ceremonial tools.

Truth is, because Franz Bardon teaches from the true standpoint of magic, once the magician masters, for instance, the circle, he will end up dispensing its folkloric use, and so on and so on. The result is most practitioners of Franz Bardon stagnate regarding ceremonial magic because Franz Bardon’s ceremonial system is brief, succinct, and, once mastered, becomes obsolete. There is not enough to foment further curiosity and development, and even though The Key to the True Quabbalah by the same author offers enormous tools and clues on how to add to ceremonial magic, the author never mentions this field in the book.

A magician should not end in his training but begin instead. The problem then, the challenge, lies in inviting these magicians to study ceremony and ritual further, with magician eyes, so they can, with their capacities and training, complete whole new systems of magic and mysticism just by deciphering and then practicing well-built ceremonies, stage of initiation to stage of initiation, until the magical device is fully formed.

A second issue occurs: ritualism seems to encourage practitioners and renew their faith daily, and Franz Bardon gives too little of it to practitioners. Not only is that support potentially lacking, as because of the lack of ceremonies, the valid effects of true ceremonial magic are not giving the beginner the initiations the beginner should be receiving, so that he or she climbs with his or her legs but flies on angel’s wings. In other words, in Franz Bardon’s Initiation Into Hermetics, the helpless candidate fights all the way towards power, without first being blessed by it.

How “Ceremonial Magick and the Franz Bardon Tradition” Course Solves Both Challenges

In many years of practicing ceremonial magic, the best key I found to its effectiveness is in the magician not generally regarded as a ceremonial magician, Franz Bardon. However, in many years of practicing the tradition of Franz Bardon, I confess I almost never found a good ceremonial magician.

This course aims to build that bridge, fill that gap, and it makes use of the most famous Golden Dawn rituals, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, and the Middle Pillar Exercise, plus a ritual of my own. The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and the Middle Pillar Exercise are considered basic rituals for beginners, and nevertheless, applied magically, they require a magician who is able to produce effects through speaking quabbalistically, who is a proficient sphere magician, who is capable of producing powerful magical volts, and who can produce effectful evocations.

It becomes clear, for instance, that the simple kabbalistic cross often used in both mentioned rituals implies the mastery of the plus and the minus, the electric principle (the red Gevurah) and the magnetic principle (the blue Gedulah), as well as methods of akashic trance through simultaneous infinite compression (the endless densification of malkhut) and expansion (atah – in thee).

However, the course is not for Adepts alone, that is, for those who exert dominion over these practices, it is for everyone. This is because our mission is to make the ritual steps into stages of mystical contact with the corresponding powers and their consequent technical mastery. The rituals, then and as was meant, become systems of magic or systems for practicing magic.

Below is a resume of both Golden Dawn rituals and the way we process them:

The Middle Pillar Exercise

Considered a method for balancing and aligning the energy centers of the body according to the Middle Pillar of the Hebrew Tree of Life, the exercise is usually used for spiritual and energetic purification. In our version, we are utilizing it to share of God’s consciousness. In other words, it will bring us into a first stage of Godhood. What we will be portraying in our resume is a simplified model, is not the full version of the course nor the most complete Golden Dawn version.

Middle Pillar – We will be working with the central spheres of the Tree of Life or Otz Chim, this means we will be working under magical equilibrium. This is so in any version of the ritual.

The Black and the White Columns – This middle pillar stands between two pillars in the Tree of Life. The Pillar of Severity indicates the Passive principle or the Minus. The Pillar of Mercy indicates the Active principle or Plus. In many versions of the original ritual we start by visualizing to the sides a black and a white column, then having them reflect one another. In our course, we know this implies making use of the fire and water elements right away as principles. As principles or qualities, they are light and darkness. As magical fluids, or quantities, they are expanding heat and compressing cold, and, by sublimation, they are the electric and the magnetic fluids. This means that we start the ritual by working with the electromagnetic volt via the elements, forming a magical current that is self-sustaining and fertile. These elements must be seen, felt and harnessed objectively.

In the original form we gain an abstract sense of the liminal and of equilibrium when we visualize the columns reflecting each other. We work with the abstract mind by making use of abstract qualities in diffuse impressions. We manage, by such ends, to create some amount of atmosphere, which we can also do by simply burning incense, lighting candles, or putting the right music on. We must engage the abstract mind as well as the objective mind, the intellect and the sensory, and involve quality as well as quantity, it is not metaphysics otherwise, and it is not magic.

The Kabbalistic Cross – Equilibrate the Light by formulating the Qabalistic Cross, thus:

a. Touch the forehead with the Sign of Benediction (or the index finger), and say Atah (in Thee).

b. Touch the breast, and say Malkuth (the Kingdom).

c. Touch the right shoulder, and say ve-Geburah (and the Power).

d. Touch the left shoulder, and say ve-Gedulah (and the Glory).

e. Place the two palms of the hands together upon the breast, and say le-Olahm, Amen (To the Ages, Amen).

Here we have a gesture with some words that have poetic meanings. The mechanics are those of superstition and some amount of epic calling, like in most exoteric religions. What is encapsuled in the kabbalistic cross, however, is, in ve-Geburah and ve-Gedulah, that same electromagnetism that Franz Bardon talks about, Eliphas Levi calls by Universal Agent, and Nema Andahadna by Magical Current. It is a technique capable of generating and nursing whole egregores, movements that sweep the world and shape it anew. In its ultimate form, it is the philosophical stone, and more so, if you consider the whole kabbalistic cross (with Atah being the infinitely large, Malkhut the endlessly condensed, and le-Olam the depth point in the cross between the four poles).

Likewise, this is also the cross of the five elements, Atah being air, Malkhut being earth, geburah being fire, gedulah being water and le-olam the quintessence, the akasha. It is not the concept we wish to revive in our course, but the thing in itself as an active and functional agent.

More so, Atah and Malkhut together form the trance technique that has been called the akashic trance, transporting the practitioner to a dimension beyond the spoken dimensions, an awareness free of time and space that is still able to interfere or interconnect with time and space.

Visualize a Flaming Sphere of brilliant White Light above your head. Inhale deeply and vibrate the divine name of Eheieh, which means I Will Be or I Am.

In this step, we visualize a white light above the head and say that we are or will be, but we say it using a Hebrew word. But what does it sum up to? Is it meant to enliven the head, make it a little lighter?

To work with this step we must learn to speak the divine names letter by letter, with each letter being a whole formula that encompasses all aspects of the self and of the universe around us. To say a divine name is not to have a vague idea of something divine, but to create a whole god’s living body and universe. To visualize the white light we must also know what it is referring to: Kether or, in hermetics, Neptune: responsible for the equilibrium of all systems. Without a quality, this light can as well lead us to the white lights of the hospital. Not exactly what we are aiming for.

Now that we know what the sphere of white light refers to, we must approach it by what it is: a whole macrocosm, a whole dimension of existence; we must become in its likeness and inhabit it, vibrating with it microcosmically until we feel at home. Only then, when we have faced it in its infinite extension, can we properly condense it into a sphere above the head.

Bring down the Light from above and visualize a Flaming Sphere of brilliant Indigo at the nape of your neck. Inhale deeply and vibrate the divine name Yehowah Elohim, which means Lord God or Lord of the Gods.

Bring down the Light and visualize a Flaming Sphere of brilliant Yellow at your heart center. Inhale deeply and vibrate the divine name Yehowah Eloah va-Daath or IAO. The former means Lord God of all Knowledge and the latter is a Gnostic name of The Sun and is a Notariqon of the former.

Bring down the Light and visualize a Flaming Sphere of brilliant Violet at your genital region. Inhale deeply and vibrate the divine name Shaddai el Chai, which means Almighty God of Life.

Bring down the Light and visualize a Flaming Sphere of brilliant Green at your feet. Inhale deeply and vibrate the divine name Adonai ha-Aretz, which means My Lord of Earth.

Similar is the methodology and we desist from providing too many details. Suffice to say the equilibrium shown in Neptune, in which it is in unity with itself, gains further levels of density by dividing itself into four planes and elements and reuniting itself once again in the vessel that is the Adept.

In simple words, this magical equilibrium is creative, transcendental, essential and objective. When we master the spheres in the course we are being given the mystical keys that will allow dominion over the akashic plane and the spirit, the mental plane and the intellect, the astral plane and the soul and the physical plane and material body, but also the four classical elements. This all comes to be through mystical and esoteric initiation in Neptune, Pluto, the Sun, the Moon and the Earthzone. In turn, the tools for magical mastery will have developed and, by consequence, the exoteric aspects of the ritual will have been mystically and magically activated. The Middle Pillar Exercise will finally be practiced as ceremonial magic, and will have ceased to be a regular ceremony.

It could be that a sphere magician still asks what utility the ritual holds to him who has previously mastered these spheres, also taking hold of true quabbalistic letters and formulas. The high ground the course holds is that, while the sphere magician has experienced and integrated one sphere at a time, we are offering the possibility of the five spheres being held together, together operating effectively through the magic of the magician.

The initiate who is willing to work all the way through Initiation Into Hermetics may also put: is this for me? I am going to master these faculties sooner or later, and maybe I will make better use of the course later than sooner. This view is discouraged, since the course will be especially useful for speeding up progress in magical training, be it Initiation Into Hermetics or other systems of a similar progressive nature. IIH starts working from the bottom up to the top, and we, at the Ceremonial Magick and the Franz Bardon Tradition course work from the top down. Hermeticism has always been about calling down what is above and lifting that which is below. Ours is the same proposition, the reason why we never discourage the practice of Initiation Into Hermetics or claim to be able to substitute it.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

It is said that this ritual uses gesture, visualization and the pronunciation of certain words of power, combining prayer and evocation. However, I do not see how certain words of power can be pronounced without the knowledge to give them power, or how simply saying words of evocation makes an evocation. Again, it works, but to the extent where faith and belief in superstition can take us. Do not get me wrong, I am not sure there is a limit to where faith and belief in superstition can take us, but again, magic is metaphysics, and all physics has a science behind it.

The ritual forms the circle, at least a geometrical circle, even if nothing is taught about what the circle means in the platonic plane of forms/ideas. The archangels ruling the elements are said to be evoked to guard the circle: Michael (fire/leo), Raphael (air/aquarius), Uriel (earth/taurus), and Gabriel (water/scorpio). However, what is happening is the ritualist, if he or she is skilled, is imprinting an image of the archangel in his/her imagination. The image is dead, but filled with as much belief as the ritualist has to offer.

The pentagrams drawn are said to banish, but how they banish except for wishful thinking (which, alone, can also go a long way), remains a mystery, with only magicians like Papus (also a member of the Golden Dawn) being able to give certain primordial clues.

What we wish with the course is not to give a lecture on what things are and are not, but to give the techniques that make things be to their fullest reasonable capacity. I shall not leave magic fully in the hands of divine grace. A human being has the right to extend his or her hand to God with his or her own muscles.

The Qabalistic Cross has been dealt with previously, it starts the ritual. It is said it forms an astral cross in the body of the magician. One can imagine how, left to themselves as they have been transmitted, these excellent rituals draw on nothing more than folk belief. Any Christian entering the church draws a cross, and in drawing a cross, draws an astral cross.

In truth, the cross must not only convey the quadripolar magnet, but formulate it through will, intellect, feeling, and consciousness. It is said the magician vibrates the names Atah, Malkhut e.t.c. instead of simply speaking them. While vibration of sound does open the material body to a state that is receptive to subtler bodies, the names, too, must be vibrated quadripolarily or, metaphysically speaking, they are as good as any other sound. We must formulate the name as it was and shall remain before and after time and space, as a universal idea in time and space, as a personal feeling, and as a consequent effect that completely alters consciousness and affects the world or reaches out for the world. Again, we must know this of each letter that composes a divine name, and know, in theory and practice, the way these letters can combine.

The ritual follows with the formulation of the banishing Pentagrams, except usually nobody explains any formula for there to be any formulation, we are just told to trace pentagrams in a certain order and imagine them kind of like a blue flame. If the banishing pentagram of the earth is to be formulated, and it is meant to banish, we must remove time and space (akasha) from our consciousness (earth), and then redistribute the elements as omnipotence (fire), omniscience (air), immortality (water) and omnipresence (earth again). This means we methodically and by constant practice invoke the Supreme God into ourselves, and it is God then that formulates the divine names to come, forming the impregnations of the room and conditions to receive the Archangels.

As will be seen on level 3 of the “Ceremonial Magick and the Franz Bardon Tradition” course, which combines what I consider the true form of the Middle Pillar Exercise with the true form of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, the process can be adapted to different evocations, and eventually resolve itself in the evocation of God by God.

Summary:

There are challenges faced by practitioners of ceremonial magic, specifically those following the Golden Dawn tradition and Franz Bardon’s teachings. In the context of the Golden Dawn, the challenge arises from the division of teachings among different orders, leading to a dilution of ceremonial magic.

Concerning Franz Bardon’s teachings, the challenge lies in the depth of his approach, which may lead practitioners to stagnate once the system is mastered. Bardon’s focus on core magical principles might discourage further exploration into ceremonial rituals.

“Ceremonial Magick and the Franz Bardon Tradition” addresses both challenges. It bridges the gap between Golden Dawn rituals and Franz Bardon’s teachings by taking from famous Golden Dawn rituals like the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and the Middle Pillar Exercise and applying them through real magic.

Given in the article:

  • A brief overview of the Middle Pillar Exercise emphasizing the importance of understanding and internalizing the esoteric principles behind each step.
  • An approach to working with the central spheres of the Tree of Life and balancing the elements to create a self-sustaining magical current.
  • An outline of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, criticizing its common interpretation as merely a set of gestures and words without an in-depth understanding of magical principles.
  • An enhancement of this ritual by incorporating a quadripolar vibration of divine names and a methodical formulation of banishing pentagrams.

In conclusion, the course promises a comprehensive and integrated approach to ceremonial magic, opposing the challenges faced by practitioners of both Golden Dawn and Franz Bardon’s traditions.

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Magical and Mystical Introspection – What is the purpose of this Course?

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Exploring the Profound Meaning in Andre Consciencia’s Occult Works – Part 2

Ceremonial Magic and the Bardon Tradition – Andre answers questions about the Course


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