work gnosis

Your greatest need is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters your mind. You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life, work on controlling your mind. In most cases, that’s the only thing you should be trying to control.
—  Marc Chernoff

“The squaring of the circle” is one of the most important interpretations and definitions of the Great Work of Alchemy. The Circle represents Unity, the First Matter of our work, and the Square represents the Four Elements of Nature which emanate from and return to the Circle. In Alchemy it is asserted that the metals are composed of the Four Elements, which the ancient philosophers called Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. The actual differences between the metals are the result of the particular proportions in which the elements are combined in the metals. Gold itself is the natural result of a particular combination of the elements. The other metals of Alchemy are also combinations of the elements. By extracting and purifying the elements in the base metals, thereby reducing the metals to their pure state of Prima Materia, and then by skillfully converting the actual proportions in the combinations of the elements which constitute the life of the metals, the metals can be transformed into gold. By purifying an object of the Four Elements we are left with a fifth element which we call the Quintessence and the First Matter of our work. In WoMan this fifth element is called his/her Spirit. Now in Mystical Alchemy the elements represent the human senses. Fire is the sense of sight, Water is the sense of taste, Air is the sense of smell, Earth is the sense of touch, and Spirit is the sense of sound. The fifth element of Spirit, unlike the others, has a direct link with our True Self, which is the Crown of our alchemystical work. To attain this fifth element we must first purify or deprogram ourselves. Then must we recreate or reprogram ourselves in accordance with our True Will. When the True Self is attained through its so-called purification, or, in other words, when we rise above the elemental senses, it is then that we are able to properly recreate ourselves, to reprogram our systems, or to recombine the elements to fit in with our new perspective. But first we must purify our systems; only then are we truly fit and freely able to properly consecrate ourselves to the Great Work, to reprogram ourselves in accordance with our True Will, and to effect the Supreme Transmutation. To deprogram ourselves is not really an act of elimination but of purification. In this case the elemental senses are to be purified. The senses, as commonly applied in the world, are material in nature, causing an identification of consciousness with the material plane at the expense of the spiritual. But we cannot realize our True Self if our senses are bound to the material world; they must become the vehicles of our True Self.

Many people are estranged from the occultist because love is not his outstanding characteristic. The difference between his attitude and that of the lover of humanity may be likened to the difference between the person who keeps animals as pets and the one who breeds them for show purposes. The latter sets out to bring the species to the highest degree of perfection of which it is capable, and with that end in view, he is ruthless with the individual. The standard of training in the higher degrees is very exacting and few achieve it; these few are those whom tradition regards as super-human. But they are not super-human, they are human beings developed to the highest pitch of which the human vehicle is capable. Such excellence in any walk of life is obtained only as the reward of arduous labours, and these leave their mark on the adept. He travels too fast for the average humanity, and they resent it; but of those souls who delight in great adventure he is the chosen companion and beloved friend.
—  The Training and Work of an Initiate, Dion Fortune
The initiate may accept his lot with a calmness which amazes men whose impulse it is to curse or pray according to their nature, but his acceptance does not necessarily imply passivity. To accept one’s fate without murmuring does not pledge one to make no effort to better it. Knowing the power of concentrated thought, the initiate makes use of it in all the problems of life. His method, however, is not that of direct attack in which he “wills” the change of the unpleasant condition, but is directed to bring about certain changes in his own consciousness, for he knows that it is his own temperament which is the real instrument of karma. It is only through those factors in his own nature which react that karma can affect him. He knows that certain conditions come to him in order that they may provoke certain reactions in his own nature, and according to his handling of these reactions will be his karma, even in the present life. When he has harmonised these reactions, he has worked out his karma.
He knows, therefore that although he cannot determine the conditions under which his life must be lived, he can determine his reaction to those conditions. It is this fact which he bears constantly in mind in all his dealings. It is this realisation which enables him to raise his head above a sea of troubles and view them from the standpoint of cosmic law and spiritual principles. Although he cannot command the conditions to which he awakens from the sleep of birth, he is nevertheless the master of his fate, for he can manipulate those conditions in such a way that they shall bear him whithersoever he will, just as a ship can tack against a head-wind; and the worse the conditions and the stronger the wind, the swifter his progress.
—  The Training and Work of an Initiate, Dion Fortune

Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)

Salvador Dali, 1954.

The Great Work

The true Mason is not creed-bound. He realizes with the divine illumination of his lodge that as Mason his religion must be universal: Christ, Buddha or Mohammed, the name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer. He worships at every shrine, bows before every altar, whether in temple, mosque or cathedral, realizing with his truer understanding the oneness of all spiritual truth. All true Masons know that they only are heathen who, having great ideals, do not live up to them. They know that all religions are but one story told in divers ways for peoples whose ideals differ but whose great purpose is in harmony with Masonic ideals. North, east, south and west stretch the diversities of human thought, and while the ideals of man apparently differ, when all is said and the crystallization of form with its false concepts is swept away, one basic truth remains: all existing things are Temple Builders, laboring for a single end. No true Mason can be narrow, for his Lodge is the divine expression of all broadness.

There is no place for little minds in a great work. Man’s status in the natural world is determined, therefore, by the quality of his thinking. We can only escape from the world by outgrowing the world. Death may take man out of the world but only wisdom can take the world out of the man. As long as the human being is obsessed by worldliness, he will suffer from the Karmic consequences of false allegiances. When however, worldliness is transmuted into Spiritual Integrity he is free, even though he still dwells physically among worldly things.

—Manly P. Hall

The personality and the things of the senses have to be sacrificed in order that the Higher Self may manifest; there can be no dispute on this point. All the Initiates have declared it to be so. We are inclined to think that, having sacrificed the personality, we shall be bereft of all things. This is because the mind of the West still clings to its habit of believing that the death of the body ends existence. So we believe sub-consciously that the death of personality ends enjoyment of the fulness of life. We forget that the merchant who sold all he had was able to purchase the Great Pearl. True, he had realised all his assets, but they were re-invested in something of far greater value. The Gospel story implies that he bore off the Pearl in triumph. So it is with us if we make the sacrifice of the things of the senses that permits of the incarnation of the Higher Self in the physical body.
—  The Training and Work of an Initiate, Dion Fortune
The occultist who is going to undertake any serious work in his chosen subject must be perceptive, must be able to be sensitive at will, and must have a working knowledge of ceremonial magic. To say otherwise is to say what is not true, for occult science is very much more than a system of ethics based on a belief in super-physical planes of existence, the Masters, and reincarnation.
—  Dion Fortune

The Kalahari Bushmen-The Elder Ones. Humanity’s First Mystics and Shamans

Of all the amazing accounts about these first people, the Bushmen are most famous for their uncanny and mind-boggling tracking skills. If you want to find a lost person or locate any animal in the Kalahari, a Bushman can track it down for you.

What few people know is that the Kalahari Bushmen are also able to track God. These practitioners of the oldest way find their path to the divine in the same manner that they hunt for any other living presence. Long before there were Tibetans, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Native Americans, Pagans, Siberians, Mayans, and Zen Buddhists, the Bushmen were walking directly into the heavens. The world’s most enduring culture has been the custodian of the original way of making connection with the sacred.

In the beginning of the human race, so the Bushmen say, the Creator gave them what there is to know about spiritual living. Since that time, they have conserved and embodied the original sacred mysteries, particularly when dancing on the Kalahari sand. When the Ice Age ended, the sub-Saharan land became too dry, and some of the original ancestors dispersed throughout the rest of the world.

Bradford Keeney-The Bushman Way of Tracking God

The Importance of Motive

The analysis of motive generally demonstrates them to be basically selfish, regardless of how unselfish they may appear.  Only those who assume the study of occultism with the highest and most unselfish motives can hope to succeed in this the supreme science. In the present age nearly everyone has ulterior motives, most of which center around the aggrandizement of the individual not-self, mistaken for the Self. We desire power that we may be recognized as powerful; we desire wisdom that we may be recognized as wise; we gravitate about important people in the hope that we may shine a little with their reflected glory; we seek to be virtuous that one man may say to another, “there goes a godly person!”

To the average person it is inconceivable that greatness should not promenade. And yet an analysis of the men and woman who have become great-either in spiritual or material affairs-reveals, in the majority of cases, humble retiring individuals whose greatness is never offensive. Those who study occultism, hoping thereby to improve their material condition, fail utterly. Before power can be safely entrusted to man, he must become supremely indifferent to it. Perfect unselfishness is perfect consecration to the service of the One Universal Self.

Manly P. Hall, Spiritual Centers in Man

Image Credit-Johfra Bosschart, Lion and Griffin (1968)

The House of the Immortals

Occult development is an exceedingly slow process. The results of the time and energy expended are often imperceptible. This brings discouragement; the candidate gives up the struggle, considering the task before him a hopeless one. Discouragement is one of the temptations placed in the way of the candidate by the Mysteries, fear in spiritual matters he who can be discouraged is not worthy of encouragement. It is by means of discouragement that mediocre minds are eliminated. Recognizing the difficulty of preserving mental continuity, the Mysteries demand it of their candidates, for only those who year after year struggle on to the single goal, wandering in the darkness but with one-pointedness and perfect faith, are considered worthy to enter the Temple-The House of the Immortals.

Manly P. Hall-Spiritual Centers in Man

The Masonic Tarot-Justice

Real justice rises above the laws and the statute rules, shown on the bottom of the illustration by the black spots: “the people of the robes.”  In the top part of the illustration, the open “pomegranate” symbolizes maturity. The scarlet color is a symbol of vitality. The balance signifies for the individual the necessity of equilibrium between internal and external lives. Intelligence and intuition must be harmonized with action.

The Masonic Tarot by Jean Beauchard.

“The word ‘sin’ is derived from the Indo-European root ‘es-,’ meaning ‘to be.’ When I discovered this etymology, I intuitively understood that for a [person] trapped in patriarchy, which is the religion of the entire planet, ‘to be’ in the fullest sense is ‘to sin’.”

~ Mary Daly (artwork by Santiago Caruso)