[In part two, we examined the Grades of the Outer Order of Golden Dawn. Now we turn our attention to the Grades of the Inner (Second) Order, the RR et AC, Ordo Roseae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (Order of the Red Rose and Golden Cross).]
In the last part, we left off with the Grade of Portal which is really not neither of the Outer (First) Order nor of the Inner (Second) Order, being more of a bridge between the two Orders. The Grade of Portal is not associated with any of the sephiroth of the Tree of Life; hence the Portal Grade has no numerical equation assigned to it. Paroketh is Portal’s Tree of Life association, which is a veil that separates the four lowest sephiroth from the rest of the Tree of Life. Paroketh is referred to some as “the veil of Isis.”
The Portal Grade does have an element assigned to it, the element of Spirit, the Quintessence that separates, binds and empowers the other four elements. The Portal ritual takes place symbolically with the four floor officers operating in the four lowest sephiroth, and the Chief Adept (seated on the dais behind a veil) in Tiphareth just beyond Paroketh. Traditionally, the Portal Grade does not have a planet associated with it, but the Apollo asteroids, the near-earth asteroids are a good fit for this Grade.
The Grade-work of the Portal Grade consists primarily of writing a thesis summarizing the initiate’s understanding of the Outer Order Grade rituals, and building up the Tree of Life in their aura; both of these tasks are important to the continued magical development of the initiate.
The thesis is necessary because successful magic inside the Golden Dawn tradition depends upon not only understanding the initiation rituals of the tradition, but also having developed a personal connection with them. Each individual initiate has a slightly different experience when undergoing the rituals, doe to the energies of the rituals flowing into the weak spots of the initiate’s energy bodies, strengthening them for the work ahead. The thesis allows the initiate to put in writing their own personal understanding and experience of the Outer Order rituals before they are exposed to the advanced Inner Order teachings about the Grade rituals.
The building up of the Tree of Life in the initiate’s aura is also necessary for the student’s magical development. Inside Golden Dawn, all symbol systems and energies are associated with the Tree of Life, including symbol sets that seemingly have no relationship to the Tree of Life. It is though the manipulation of symbols and their associated energies though the matrix of the Tree of Life that a Golden Dawn Adept performs magic.
Traditionally, the name Golden Dawn only refers to the Grades of the Outer Order, Neophyte (0=0) through Philosophus (4=7). Likewise the name of the Inner Order, RR et AC, traditionally only refers to the Adept Grades. Traditionally, the Golden Dawn and the RR et AC are considered to be two separate esoteric Orders.
Yet both the Portal ritual and Grade-work indicates otherwise, that the two Orders are merely parts of the same system of spiritual and magical development. The initiate in Portal is exposed to a keynote of the Inner Order symbolism, Rosicrucianism, and their Grade-work leads directly into the Grade-work of the Adept Grades.
The Adept Grades are the rulers of Outer Order. Traditionally, a Golden Dawn lodge requires three Adepts to rule it, plus one to serve as its chief ritual officer, the Hierophant. Ideally besides these four, an additional Adept should be present in the role of Past Hierophant.
In turn, according to the mythic structure of Golden Dawn, these Adepts in the form of the Second Order should have contact with persons or entities of even higher levels of spiritual and magical development, the mysterious Secret Chiefs of the Third Order.
A close examination of the history of Golden Dawn throws doubt on this mythical ideal of how the tradition is supposed to be ruled. The three co-founders of Golden Dawn were Adepts in name only when the Order was founded in 1888. The Adept Minor ritual was not created until 1891; the first initiate, Annie Horniman, to experience the ritual was admitted to the Adept Minor Grade on December 7, 1891.
The Adept Minor ritual was the creation of Samuel L. (MacGregor) Mathers. Later MacGregor would claim to be in contact with Third Order after he and his wife moved to Paris, perhaps in an attempt to control the Order whose members were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with how he was abusing his authority. But at the time of the creation of the Adept Minor ritual and the outline of the Inner Order coursework, Mathers was still living in England.
But none of this undermines the potential of the remaining Grades, Adept and beyond. Starting with the Adeptus Minor, the Golden Dawn becomes the RR et AC (Ordo Roseae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis: the Order of the Rose of Ruby and the Cross of Gold), and the theory and lore taught in Outer Order becomes an actual tool for spiritual and magical development.
Traditionally, in a lodge setting, one must be invited into the Adept Grades. Advancement in Outer Order is based on time spent inside the Grades and the ability to memorize certain rudimentary esoteric lore. Ideally, advancement in Inner Order is based on understanding of the system and successful magical results.
The Adept Minor (5=6) Grade is associated with the sephirah Tiphareth and the Sun. Some say that it is the equivalent of the Master Mason degree of Freemasonry. Others say that the Adept Minor is in contact with their Higher Guardian Angel. The ritual combines elements of the Egyptian, Christian and Rosicrucian mysteries. The ritual is based upon the discovery of the Tomb of Christian Rosencreutz, the mythic founder of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood, and requires the use of a specially constructed chamber called the Vault of the Adepts.
The Adept Minor Grade, as originally conceived by Mathers is divided into six sub-Grades.
Adept Minor (5=6) Sub-Grades
Neophyte Adeptus Minor (NAM or AMN)
Zelator Adeptus Minor (ZAM)
Theoricus Adeptus Minor (THAM)
Practicus Adeptus Minor (PRAM)
Philosophus Adeptus Minor (PHAM)
Adept Adeptus Minor (AAM)
The first sub-Grade, Neophyte Adept Minor, is responsible for creating and consecrating their principal magical tools: the elemental weapons (Earth Pentacle, Air Dagger, Water Cup, and Fire Wand), Lotus Wand, and personal magical sword. The AMN is also responsible for learning the Hexagram rituals, and the Greater Ritual of the Pentagram, besides studying certain papers. The AMN sub-Grade is a preparatory stage for the work that follows.
It is with the second sub-Grade, Zelator Adept Minor, that the Inner Order work begins in earnest. The ZAM starts to study the layers of the Neophyte ritual, the Egyptian godforms underlying it and what energetic effects the ritual has on the person undergoing it. The ZAM also learns how these same energies can be used to advance their own spiritual and magical development, and how to use the magical formulas hidden in the Neophyte ritual for practical purposes.
Each of the other sub-Grades will continue this work, and start the study of another Outer Order ritual: THAM—Zelator; PRAM—Theoricus; PHAM—Practicus; AAM—Philosophus.
It is due to the detailed study of the Outer Order rituals that Golden Dawn custom insists that the Hierophant be at least a member of the Zelator Adept Minor sub-Grade. Furthermore, the complexity of the Outer Order rituals’ energies have led some to say that ZAM is still not advanced enough to serve adequately as Hierophant, and that perhaps all the Outer Order officers should be at least Adept Minors. Unfortunately, changing the system in that manner would rob lower Grade members of the opportunity to experience the rituals as officers, something that is vital to successfully being able to complete the Portal thesis, not alone the Adept Minor sub-Grades.
So far we have looked at the Golden Dawn and RR et AC system up to the sub-Grade of Zelator Adept Minor.
Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending upon who is consulted), the published material about Golden Dawn and RR et AC ends here. Beyond ZAM, only a small amount of information has been published; mainly some THAM and PRAM material and “blinded” versions of the 6=5 and 7=4 rituals is all that has been published past ZAM. There are a couple of reasons for this lack of material.
The first of which is those who have published Golden Dawn material, or left the system to start their own esoteric Orders were, and are, typically ZAMs. There have been some expectations to this trend in recent years, mostly due to the perceived abuses by self-styled leaders of various Orders and lodges. This new development, of higher Grade members openly talking about the system, alarms those who claim that the Inner Order must maintain absolute secrecy to continue to exist and operate; others say that it is the only way to ensure that the system continues despite scandals coming to the surface; time will tell whose idea was the correct one.
The second reason, perhaps even more important, is that the RR et AC was never actually completed. Despite his claims of having Third Order contacts, MacGregor Mathers seemed to have lost his inspiration in post-schism days and his later writings are not as useful as his earlier creations.
So it has fallen to those who have inherited the tradition to complete the work of developing the higher Grades. Due to these facts, and the natural feelings of competition and rivalry that characterizes being an Order head (plus the belief that there are only so many potential members to go around), opinions differ widely about what the rest of the Grade structure implies, and is a hotly contested subject as leaders try to prove that their opinion is the one true answer (therefore making their Order the only sensible one to join).
One of the opinions is that the Grades beyond Adept Minor can not be properly understood by anyone who is not of them. This assumption depends upon the physical, mental and spiritual make-up of the initiate actually changing as a result of the work done in the system; essentially, the initiate evolve into something greater than an ordinary human being which is almost another species of humanity.
The most famous voice of this opinion was the late, great Israel Regardie, the man who fearing the complete disappearance of the tradition (due to leaders hoarding information and issuing it to their favorites only), decided to publish the rituals and core material that were in his possession. Regardie said of the Grades beyond Adept Minor that “[I]t is impossible for the ordinary individual to understand those [Grades] above the Grade of Adeptus Minor, and individuals who lay claim openly to such exalted Grades, by that very act place a gigantic question mark against the validity of their attainment. He that is exalted is humble.”
Another opinion about the unfinished Grades is that they demand absolute secrecy; in fact, all the published material must become the work of Outer Order, including the system of Enochian magic. Furthermore, there are some that claim that the rest of the system can only be completed though making contact, and giving absolute obedience to the Secret Chiefs of Third Order and their chosen Second order representatives.
And then there are those who claim that we already possess everything that we need to finish the system, that the higher Grades are more about knowledge and skill, of magical development, than they are about immeasurable spiritual virtues, that they are rooted in the lower Grades of Golden Dawn and not in a mythic Grand Lodge.
It is with the latter opinion, and with the few published and unpublished bits information and material that we have of the Grades beyond Adept Minor that we can develop a rough draft of what lies ahead in the higher Grades.
The last sub-Grade of Adept Minor, the Adept Adeptus Minor sub-Grade, started the study of the layers of the Philosophus ritual of Outer Order. Given the fact that there are seven layers (at least) to every one of the rituals, and assuming that starting with ZAM that one layer is introduced with each sub-Grade, there would still be two layers left of the rituals to be introduced and explored after the completion of the Adept Minor sub-Grades. We can therefore assume that these final two layers would be introduced in the last two Adept Grades and that starting with Adept Major, the Inner Order Grade rituals are being studied.
The first Grade past the Adept Minor sub-Grades is Adeptus Major (6=5). The Adept Major Grade is associated with the sephirah Geburah and the planet Mars. The initiation ritual takes place in the Vault of the Adepts, the Tomb of Christian Rosencreutz, symbolically in the underworld and the thirty-six decans of the zodiac wheel. Chic and Sandra Tabitha Cicero say of the Adept Major Grade that it is the Grade of the “spiritual warrior.” Pat Zalewski says that the Adept Major would spend a lot of time experimenting with practical magic and studying the astral planes. Following the pattern of rituals previously studied, the Adept Major would focus on understanding the Portal ritual.
The Last Grade of Second Order and the Third Degree is that of Adeptus Exempt (7=4). The Adept Exempt Grade is associated with the sephirah Chesed and the planet Jupiter. The Ciceros say that this is the Grade of the “master magician.” The ritual studied is the Adept Minor initiation ritual.
Paul Foster Case, founder of the Builders of the Adytum (BOTA) and ex-member of Alpha and Omega (Mathers’ post-schism esoteric Order) wrote of this Grade: “Its name, Exempt Adept, is worth considering. Exempt from what?” Case thought that it was exemption from the delusion of separateness from the divine and universal energies.
Zalewski states that it is “freedom from the restriction of the former Grades.” Others believe that it is freedom from karma, and a preparatory step in overcoming the need to reincarnate, allowing the bearer of the Grade upon death to step off the wheel of rebirth, allowing them to continue to develop spiritually without all this fuss in inconvenient flesh and blood bodies.
This closes our examination of the Grades of the Inner Order; all that remains to be examined are the Grades of the mysterious Third Order which we will do in part four.