So, I've been thinking....
...much lately about the nature of Hermetic Alchemy. G.H.Frater L.E.S has stated a number of times that our tradition is analaguos to the Eastern tradition. This is interesting, in that the secrets and techniques of the Eastern Tradition have been made publicly available by Adepts like Mantak Chia and his peers/teachers. They have chosen to make this material publicly available-which I think is a good thing, as they take no binding vows to do otherwise.
The whole secrecy bit is so complicated, and difficult-on the one hand, it is terrible to have the secrets of our Order profaned. On the other, had it not been for Crowley and especially Regardie, the vast majority of us would probably have never heard of the Golden Dawn, let alone become initiates. I'm not so sure there would be a Golden Dawn at all if not for Regardie's efforts. I certainly mean no disrespect to G.H.Frater LES, who is rightfully passionate about protecting the Egregore of our Order, but I would say it is harsh to call Regardie a villain. If I were to encounter him (and he be still alive), I wouldn't shun him. I would thank him for sacrificing his own good name, and facing the backlash-current, so that I might become a Magician in the Western Tradition. Where it not for his Big Black Book, I would be a Magician still...but of a different tradition, and that would be a shame.
That being said, breaking vows is breaking vows is breaking vows. A terrible act. I can't help but think though...Wasn't it the Master Yeshua who said we should "hate the sin, but love the sinner"?
With the our hidden tradition and that of the Easterners being parallel, I imagine, with some experimentation and research, that by comparing a swathe of the old Emblems and alchemical texts with the known Eastern techniques one would be able to suss out the rudiments of the Hermetic technique. Certainly not the same as getting a direct transmission, but still. If the techniques for generating the Solar Body and creating Alchemical Transmutation within the body/Self are already publicly available..in one form or another...and haven't resulted in a rash of deaths or difficulties due to misuse (that I am aware of)...what can be gained by keeping our best teachings only partially Sealed? Isn't there more danger in people attempting to perform these transmutations of energy-and failing, or doing them incorrectly-then having the actual accurate process readily available for those who determine they are prepared?
These questions are concerning, and are likely rooted in my own ignorance of the actual process. Perhaps there is some incredible danger to the techniques that I am not aware of, not having the transmission yet. Perhaps there are keys that remain sealed from our Eastern Brethern (although, judging by the unbroken and extremly lengthy history of their tradition, I find this unlikely.) From my point of view, there are two ways to view this, and they basically come down to:
Do you trust the persons holding the Keys to be altruistic, and motivated by altruism rather than centralizing power?
I..suprisingly to myself...do. The Fraters in my order who I know to likely have been blessed with this Transmission-such as V.H.Frater S.R., who shares his wisdom with us all regularly, or V.H.Frater S.I., who conducted my own Initiations into our order and is both knowledgeable and a gentleman, or V.H. Soror MDLL, a Lady if I've ever met one, and an excellent teacher-have earned both my respect and trust. I don't know if they actually have received the alchemical transmissions, mind you-but they are very accomplished in our Order, and if they haven't, then something needs to be fixed...in my humble, still-just-an-Outer-Order-member opinion. Take it with a grain of Salt.
However, if you aren't a member of our Order, and haven't met any of our Adepti and only know us through the extremely unfortunate Flame Wars, you are likely firmly on the side of this being purely a centralizing of Power. It would be naive, I think, to say that power wasn't a factor-there are humans involved, after all-but I feel it would be equally wrong to assume that was the only motivation behind keeping this information Sealed.
I am a Theurgist, a Spagyrist, a Magician. I am going to do my own research, and will not wait about for a handout. I take responsibility for my own development. I will also-when I receive the actual transmission-keep my vows. I am no oathbreaker, and do believe our teachings are Sacred, and should be treated as such. This begs the question, though-if I discover what I think are the Keys through parallel research, am I honor bound not to share what I discover? Am I bound to keep Sealed something I don't actually know? Would the research itself be a passive violation of these vows?
I have an idea for a solution-make all of the information and training processes of each grade available to those who are already sworn members of the order, without requiring admission to the Third Order to have the processes. All Orders have a curriculum, meant to guide the Initiate down the path in a certain fashion-and that is what they will work. I am well aware of what the Philosiphus curriculum will be-I'm at Practicus, and so I'm working that. Knowing what I will be doing next doesn't tempt me to jump ahead, because I know that doing so wouldn't actually assist me in my development. Seeing the 13th stair on a staircase is all well and good; I still have to climb the intervening stairs to get there. If I am dumb enough to try to skip them, than I deserve the bruises I get. Extend the pledge period to a year, and require there be very active work to weed out pretenders or "spys" who have no real interest in the Order. Then, when they are Initiated, give the information to them. This way, nothing is profaned by accident..and the members of the Order know without a doubt that they are respected as equals. The entire Outer order is already profaned-I knew the Initiation rituals well before they actually occurred, and they were still powerful and effectual. I am not naively supposing that this would completley eliminate the risk of profanation. The more people who know, the greater the risk. Thinking that way just extends the length of time before the profanation occurs though, as you'll get that same amount of people who would increase that risk over time. What needs to change, I think, is the system of Secrecy itself-so one is inspired by love of one's Order and respect of tradition to keep the Seal, in a Democratic and Fraternal fashion. People who are expatriates and leave their Country don't generally go calling up their country's enemies to give away important secrets...because they still love the country. This is not the case with modern occult orders. Fear is a poor motivator in comparison with personal Honor and Love, and clearly the strong punishing current has been a poor detterent thus far. I just think that the essence of our Order belongs to our entire Fraternity, and not just those of us who are lucky enough to put in the decade or two it takes to get to the Third Order.
Thinking about, this may be the way it already is-if one considers the Second and Third Orders as entirely seperate Orders. Perhaps, at entry into each, the curriculum for the whole order is laid out to the initiate, same as in the First. I wouldn't know...and won't be able to tell you, when the time comes. The nature of the beast...
That's just my opinion, though. I'm sure I'm not the first to think that way-which is probably why we have our vows in the first place, haha. I would never break a solemn vow willfully, regardless of what I thought of the subject matter, and that helps keep the Seal going.
Your thoughts, Fraters and Sorors?