Inheritor of a Dying World
Initiatory Experiences in the Golden Dawn
by Melissa Seims
Your head is covered by a black bag suffused with the smell of incense from prior initia- tions. Your palms are slightly sweaty as you are led, tentatively groping for the ground in front of you, into the temple. A disembodied voice cuts through the formality of your admittance; ‘Inheritor of a Dying World, arise and enter the Darkness’. This powerful phrase, loaded with meaning, beckons you onwards in your spiritual journey.
Initiations are nothing new. Societies, cultures and religions from all over the world, stretching back to the dawn of humanity, have held ceremonies or rituals to mark the significant events of a mortal life. Birth, puberty, marriage and death, for example. These are all based on visible and physical points of change in your life. But we are more than just our bodies and so it makes sense that there should also be rites marking spiritual be- ginnings and transitions.
Baptism, Ordination, Attunement and Initiation are some of the terms used to describe such spiritual transition points . Some mark the start of a spiritual path; some mark the achievement of sufficient religious and spiritual knowledge, or the ability of the candi- date to lead others in a spiritual capacity. Yet others are designed to incite and invite spiritual lessons to come into our lives so that we may thus transmute them and through that experience, glimpse our own personal alchemical gold, our own Sun.
In the outer order of the Golden Dawn a combination of these approaches is used. You are invited to balance out the elements of your personality, thus purified and acquainted with the building blocks of the Universe it is then and only then, that you can wield Na- ture’s power in conformity with your Will.
Magical initiations often consist of things that you would not normally do in your every- day life. For example, being naked, challenged with a sword, or walking around with a bag on your head. You may catch yourself wondering whether you have actually gone mad, then the presence of others reassures you that if this is so, you are not the only one! This is just one of several reasons why an actual, as opposed to an astral form of initiation is, in my opinion, preferential. The benefits of walking any spiritual path with others who have done the same, are immense. Especially when, as in the Golden Dawn system, you are stripping away your psyche, taming the Ego and generally trying to discover who you really are; for this can be scary stuff!
In order to advance through the grades, you are expected to sufficiently demonstrate your knowledge of the prior grade by taking an exam. This is wise, for we all know where trying to run before you can walk, can lead! As for the actual initiation itself, some prefer to undergo them ‘blind’ i.e. without any prior knowledge of what that par- ticular ritual contains. Others like to know what’s coming and read ahead. Personally, I much prefer the former . Shock value and surprise can count for a lot in initiations. You certainly don’t need to worry about knowing any-
You are invited to balance out the elements of your personality ... it is then and only then, that you can wield Nature’s power in conformity with your Will.