Jake Stratton Kent vs Magickal Lodges

Found this. It is old but new to me.

Goetia versus secrecy, Masonry & bogus history

opening remarks

This is close to an outline manifesto, relevant to the POV of my writings and distilled from over 4 decades of involvement in magic, public and private. I’m sure many will reject it out of hand, or mount a defence of aspects of occultism it attacks – but nothing said here is unconsidered; while the unquestioning retention of what it opposes desperately requires critique. Some of it explains why I’m a controversial figure, who many traditionalists find too radical, and ‘post moderns’ consider old fashioned. These easy dismissals are neat ways of avoiding important issues, when in fact the similarities between the extremes are more extensive than the differences, which is part of the problem, as I outline below.

*Goetia versus secrecy, Masonry and bogus history in modern occultism*

The historical links between goetia and shamanism are very strong. If you are familiar with the ‘Greek shaman’ thesis of Burkert et al, ‘goes’ was originally the Greek for shaman, especially as psychopomp. Funnily enough the same word, in its later devalued sense could also mean ‘witch’. Properly understood goetia is – essentially – the one authentic and continuous link the modern Western tradition has with the past, and that includes modern witchcraft (as I believe Hutton pointed out, and he is certainly right historically speaking).

There are various reasons I find the ‘Masonic’ model a dead loss in the many, many areas of modern magic where it applies. I see two reasons for Masonry in magic, one good enough, the other p*** poor. The good enough one was as a cover for free thinkers in an age when – for example – non-attendance at Anglican church was an imprisonable offense in England. That time is over. The other I will come to later.

The whole Secret Society model is not only unhelpful, but actively counter-productive. It is the principle reason why so much energy is expended fighting tiny little wars between factions (between witch groups, between rival Golden Dawns, between thelemic groups etc etc). Energy that could be better spent elsewhere – like incorporating the real advances in recovering our tradition made possible by *non-secretive* sources like academia. Indeed, one reason parts of the grimoire community are advancing faster than any other area nowadays is that it doesn’t automatically include this model! Which, whether in Magical Orders or Witchcraft leads to infighting, stagnation and parochialism. I also have no more time for ‘invented history’, which the entire occult world seems to rely on to an alarming extent. But lets start with secrecy.

Nothing I’ve heard from witch groups or magical orders in the last forty plus years has led me to feel they possess *any* privileged information – let alone insights – regarding goetia. Its been more of the same for decades, indeed since the C19th it has hardly moved at all – at least, not among occultists.

From my perspective, what I’ve learned about goetia in the occult world as manifest since the C19th is very unimpressive. Even if someone is jealously guarding material from deeper into the C18th/C19th it still lacks a lot of context, info and insights now available from modern scholarship, the papyri etc. Things have stood still for so long that modern research has got further along without them, and they don’t want to catch up! Where magic is going is not like where it has been since early modern times, but very few have caught on to that.

Which brings me to the Bertiaux/Grant end of the spectrum, what I call ‘dark fluff’, a major epidemic in recent modern occultism. There are so many ‘darker than thou’ types out there playing silly games with the Qliphoth, Necronomicon, Atlantean initiations and such. The grasp of the roots of magic in this ‘niche’ is even more bogus than the ‘occult establishment’ of the C19th and its offshoots. Indeed, they are much more similar to that establishment than they imagine. Spookying up the Golden Dawn, Crowley and modern witchcraft with a dash of Lovecraft and Qliphoth etc is no more informed about the real roots of Western magic in goetia. Its just more of the same in all but the most superficial details.

Which brings me to the other aspect of ‘why we used masonry’. It was as a *substitute* for elements of the magical tradition we’d either lost, or felt uncomfortable with in a more orthodox religious environment than currently exists. Virtually every western school has relied on Masonry to fill in the gaps for so long that they are no longer very interested in recovering what it was substituting for. There is so much Masonic bathwater that has to go to make room for real babies in the bath, and change frightens people. Hence bogus history and Masonry predominate, even though there is much better information and different structures available.

The *real* roots of what has been called ‘black magic’ by later philosophies and religions, is in fact an incredibly rich tradition distinct from them, *not defined by opposition to them*, or even reliant on similar terms (qabalistic or neoplatonist).

In short, through clinging to bogus history and the secret society model, we are selling ourselves very short indeed as Western magicians.



More here: https://aaronleitch.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/jake-stratton-kent-vs-magickal-lodges-pt-1/

An Open Message to the Golden Dawn Community

Various sources inform me that some of the Golden Dawn groups recognise their past failings and are ‘moving on’ now or soonish – that’s fine, even credible.

Meanwhile we have all sorts of attitudes and misconceptions in the occult community, originating precisely from the Golden Dawn, plus some help from Crowley and Grant. It doesn’t matter whether  Crowley is/was popular with this or that faction of the current Golden  Dawn community. If it is a community, it has a lot of work to do helping folks unlearn a lot of bullshit, and make space for better information. Sure, some Masonic tendencies in the occult community are not  entirely Golden Dawn related, but some very unhelpful and generic  problems DO originate in that area.

Particularly as regards traditional Goetia – to which the ‘standard bearers of the Occult Revival’ have done an immense collective disservice. This in several ways, and I need not emphasise Mathers’ editing and attitude flaws in his Key of Solomon or the still near universal semantic problems stemming from the Mathers/Crowley publication of the Goetia of Solomon. Waite’s ironic dismissal of the grimoires is also a comparatively minor matter. Aaron and others are quite capable of clarifying these details if need be. There is a more serious philosophical matter, which should alarm Western occultists across much of the traditional spectrum. It requires measured, reasonable but effective action, and cannot be avoided.

Mathers introduction of the Qliphoth into modern occultism has resulted, against considerable precedent, in an ‘anti-cosmic philosophy’ as one of the main features of modern Western Occultism. This is a disaster for Hermeticism and Neoplatonism, to which the Golden Dawn current among many Western schools essentially belong. These are positive philosophies, even with the inheritance of the ‘spirit/matter dichotomy’ inherent in Plato – which to a large degree Iamblichus resolved. The involvement of the premier occult ‘Secret Societies’ in Gnosticism – with its own pessimistic undercurrents – is also something Magical Orders need to clarify very firmly indeed.

The role of the Qliphoth in neo-occultism is also a greater disaster to understanding and reclaiming Goetia as a major formative ancestral current within Western Magic. Spirit work as a central part of western magic, long ‘demonised’ and driven underground, involves a spirit pantheon, traceable as early as the second century AD, and with older elements. These ‘Aerial spirits (demons or ‘third order angels’) have no real relation with the qlipoth whatever. The ‘fall out’ from the early revival as now represented in some quarters represents essentially a  whole new layer of demonisation, for which the legacy of the Golden Dawn bears much of the responsibility. This has social and philosophical ramifications which have to be considered, by would be Hierophants and Orders alike. Again, Grant’s contribution to this fiasco does not absolve the Golden Dawn legacy of responsibility for the ‘clear up’. I stress also that an ‘anti-Satanic’ crusade would not be constructive, what is required is due acknowledgment of the authentic goetic tradition. The ‘anti-spiritualist’ clause in the Magical Obligation is an additional obstacle to true progress in the ‘spirit work’ aspect of traditional magic. Methods involving states of passivity and loss of control should not be subject to an ideological taboo at the very base of the Pyramid.

Additionally, the Secret Society model has had a major impact on witchcraft, another aspect of my original statement. The ‘bogus history’ and resistance to change inherent in this model has not been useful there. Other strands of the modern ceremonial community  have also inherited problems (such as antipathy to spiritualism) from  the GD/AC legacy. One influential secret society has only added one  book to their curriculum since 1947 – that’s not a good precedent for  an occult vanguard. This all results from the self referential tendencies in the Secret Society model. A closed door to stop knowledge getting out eventually stops it getting in. To repeat, its all very well you guys  moving on – but you have a hell of a job catching up and clearing up,  not only your own act, but the semi generic mess your past mistakes  have encouraged.

Don’t just set up shop with some shiny ‘new improved’ labels. Occultism doesn’t need a new flavour in an old package. It needs to encourage self education regarding its traditions, from authentic primary sources and up to date research. It needs to understand the Western Tradition as a continuum, not a series of consumer niches  and disjointed re-enactment styles with no inter-relationships or  mutual influences. Rather than letting occultism get dumbed down   and commercialised through their neglect, the Mystery Schools must  exemplify Magic as an important formative aspect of Western Culture  and be worthy of their Calling.

Otherwise what’s the point of them?

Lodges and “secret(ive)” societies have a place in magic, just not what they are in today’s western magic. The models of the ADR houses exemplify what a lodge should be… proper and complete knowledge passed down from teacher to student, with the teacher being available for the knowledge and personal experience they’ve had over their years. Close, active, and constant contact with the spirits they call. Otherwise, what’s really the point of a society, if not to pass down knowledge, experience, and required initiations?

What is ADR?

African Diasporic Religion. Ie, voodoo, Santeria, Umbanda, quimbanda, palo mayombe, etc.

I found another discussion. It is in the comment section. A reply by Kent:

A lot of folks still don’t get some of the points. One important one is that internal reforms are good, but meantime the old model has been highly influential across Occulture. The ‘reformed’ groups do need to address a fair few issues in future to counter-balance earlier errors and omissions. Starting with backing off from the introducing of the Qliphoth into modern occultism, which from the GD via Crowley to Grant has been highly influential and unhelpful. Simply put, it is not connected with the the goetic strand through the grimoires into antiquity; with which they are now conflated.

Also required is a greater interaction with academia, which on several matters of interest has frequently been ahead of ‘modern occultism at large’ throughout my life. Way back in the 1970s you were lucky to get a paragraph on the lunar mansions in an astrology book, none in a magical manual, and only very generic stuff on their near relatives the decans. Frances Yates put me onto this very interesting trail, which strongly connects with spirit magic etc – and from there I long pursued the matter via academic sources as there was no where else to go for decades. This is by no means an isolated area of interest – and more research led leadership is certainly required.