Translated by Smaragd and Silvaeon
History of the Hermetic Group
There has been a long living division between the outer and inner group, the ”esoteric” and the ”exoteric”, that is the colour and formal aspects, in the structure of the Star of Azazel. The first mentioned group has emphasised activity in work, and its circle has opened for members who have (a) emphasised the principle of committing to others in practical fraternity work and (b) have been by their temperament, abilities and foremostly by their indicated ethical conviction applicable to the work of the inner group. 1 The name of the ”Esoteric” Group was later changed to the Hermetic Group, because the division between esoteric and exoteric could be easily seen as emphasising the first mentioned as overtly positive: there easily comes the idea that only the inner group is capable of true fraternity work, whereas the exoteric side is something preparatory and secondary. Moreover the word ”esotericism” is already used in the constitution with another meaning, as an emphasis of the whole fraternity.
There’s no need to go too deep into the history of occult movements to notice how challengingly narrow is the bridge that is used to divide spiritual groups in two. 2 Rare is the private person or group that keeps its balance on this narrow ledge leading from the common surroundings to the sharedly private. Thus in the context of the Star of Azazel, this division, just like with other practicalities, has been made an individual matter of each lodge. In the Key of Azazel, the formulas by which a private person or a lodge member, brother or sister can consecrate their own esoteric or hermetic striving have been presented. The possible hermetic structures of the lodges is left to their own open consideration, as with all their other functions.
The need for groups working with differing intensities is after all always real when spiritual work is being done with serious intent and the size of the group is expanding. The idea of enfolded groups was already part of the first versions of the manuscript of the rules of the Star of Azazel written in 2002. When the society was concretely founded in 2006, the need for an inner group (with all its familiar challenges) arose little by little, resulting from the members different possibilities for deepening the work. The need for the inner group can usually be evaded only in lodges that stay very small, or who have no ideological field to work outside the group nor inward in its members inner occult practice. 3
Graal and Hermeticism
The meaning of Hermeticism in Graal lodge is in seeking to organize all available resources into the devotional practice of upward striving fraternity work. In other words, on its own behalf, Graal strives to manifest ”the core of the fraternity”, and to point towards such praxis by its operation. For this true Work, the development of occult abilities of the members is only instrumental in its quality, not an intrinsic value. Instead the development of the souls of its members are inevitably entirely bound to the work of the idealistic core: a human being grows in one’s striving to bear fruit for the whole.
In the circle of Graal, the Hermetic group is formed of grades above the three practice grades. Thus each hermetic color aspect has its correspondence in the three practice grades under the aspect of Chalice (that is now Graal).
The practice group of Graal:
1° ”The journey over the mountain” belonging to the circle of the Three-fold Key.
2° ”Temple work” belonging to the circle of the Five-fold Key.
3° ”Subterranean amphitheater” belonging to the circle of the Two-fold Key.
The Hermetic group of Graal:
4°-6° Actual color aspect memberships in the Hermeticism of Graal, gone through in any order. 4
In addition to these regular grades Graal has a 0°, which the lodge members who do not take part of the actual grade work belong to, and a 7° as the guide to the Hermetic aspect. 5 The members who are already part of the colour aspects 6, as well as members on the journey ”under the mountain” have their grade marked in brackets 7.
In the Hermetic group of Graal, practices are gone through according to individual and common need at hand, as well as the aspect. The most important function of a Hermetic group is not in the practicing work, but serving the ideology of the fraternity and creating and guiding different structures for these means. The Hermetists of Graal report to the guide in regular intervals: annual report in the Black aspect, biannual report in the Red aspect and quarterly report for the White aspect. As with all work of ideological esotericism in the Star of Azazel, everyone is free to leave from the inner group at any given moment without a penalty. And as with all work within the Star of Azazel, members dropping communication and work will be seen as resigned after verification. Again, unlike the cult assosiations that closed occultism would like to present, the Hermetists have no power over the individual autonomy of each other, nor that of the non-Hermetists. Also, in a teacher-student relationship, the Star of Azazel emphasizes, as it must, the autonomous decision making of the individual regarding matters of their own lives. The Esoteric teacher is at best ”a spiritual friend”, never an authority to be followed blindly. It is better to lose a hundred students in a discipline too loose than it is to break one with a discipline too severe.
Organizing Hermeticism in Lodges
Any other lodge can build their own Hermetic group in a similar or any other way. Nothing prevents keeping the whole lodge as esoteric and all its members as part of colour aspects. Then, what does the esotericism of the Star of Azazel consist of to keep the esoteric ideals of the different lodges as shared and concentric? This we can examine first and foremost through the ’Hermetist’s Oath’.
From my own desire and conviction of my heart
I step in to the circle of Hermetists in the fraternity of the Star of Azazel
Taking its work and obligations as part of my everyday life
And pledging to help do the mutual Work
Under love and understanding
To the best of my abilities
Until the fraternity releases me of my duty
FROM MY OWN DESIRE AND CONVICTION OF MY HEART
The first part emphasises two things and insists on the cohesion of them. In occultism, these two terms, ”desire” and ”conviction of the heart”, are mysteriously one; it is not a matter of bound desire, which is the desire to gain something in order to fulfill the ambitions of the self with a lowercase ’s’, but of a deeper and more meaningful matter. Unless a student is able to link his desire (kâma) to the ”conviction of the heart” (âtma-buddhi), he will not suceed as a Hermetist because the ability of an in-depth occultism to receive is absolutely proportional to his ability to give and link to the whole.
I STEP IN TO THE CIRCLE OF HERMETISTS IN THE FRATERNITY OF THE STAR OF AZAZEL
”Hermeticism” is under Hermes, that is under the god of wisdom and communication, Mercury. He is the guardian of the alchemical inner transformation process and utmost authority, The Triple Sun of Oneness, Trismegistos. A ”Hermetic seal” does not mean that the group or the Work be closed off from outside contacts, but enclosing ones own heart in the same vessel with the divinity which is raising it, to make them as one by trials, and thus igniting the fire that molds the aspirant. Thus ”the circle” is not by any means a circle of arbitrary social merit, the kinds of which gives birth only to a sickly growth of standing water: it is a circle which works by serving.
TAKING ITS WORK AND OBLIGATIONS AS PART OF MY EVERYDAY LIFE
The occultist’s work is not done when there is time and energy left from the daily life, but it is also, and even foremost, by living deeply in the day-to-day heaviness. It is not possible for a human being to be blunt, jealous, superficial or selfish and after such a forced work time turn in to a lenient, deep and giving being. Hermeticism is first and foremost an imprint 8 left on the day-to-day, which makes every bit of work and encounter a sacred one.
AND PLEDGING TO HELP DO THE MUTUAL WORK
The Great Work in the upward striving of the Star of Azazel is not principally private, but rather the private and the mutual link inseparably together in the fraternitys Hermeticism. Magical and sacred empowerment – or enlightenment, liberation, or whatever the aspect of adept attainment we want to emphasize – unavoidably connects to the universal, and the Work must be done within the ideal of universal attainment. Endeavouring to gain power only for the self leads to losing the power of the soul; endeavouring to attain connection with the spirit world only to fulfill the little self’s cravings for power leads to losing that self, mediumism, where a human ceases being a separate individual. A human being can by all means also choose the pratyeka path, the lone path away from fraternities, but the same challenges of esotericism will still confront him, for they are neutral laws of the world of the soul.
UNDER LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING
The Hermetic group pledges to follow the fraternity’s first principles in an emphasised way: the constitution’s striving for love and truthfulness will not be pushed to the background, but will be formed into a kind of ever-present skeleton key to all doors in the phase where the initial connection has been made and the process intensifies. This also means that cracks in these basic ideals – their unnoticed one-sided and possibly skewed interpretation – will retaliate more severely and swiftly than before.
TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITIES
Every student must give their own best of each moment, and the best of that moment also will be enough from everyone. The occult work does not look ahead to the outer end result, but to the inner striving. The work which seems to have been done excellently judging by the end results can in reality be even harmful, and in the same way a striving that seems to have failed judging by the seeming exterior, can be in reality perfectly successful. Occultism in its idealism of karmic development is the opposite of fast utilitarism, for it believes the factors that have yet been concealed within will eventually manifest past the swift initial effects.
UNTIL THE FRATERNITY RELEASES ME OF MY ASSIGNMENT
A Hermetist can ask to be released fom the oath at any time, and will be granted that. But this oath or assurance binds the ends of the rope, which forms the circle around him; encircling him with conscious control and the right atmosphere. 9 The Hermetist can not prosper if he does not understand his connection to the other Hermetists of his group. This connection is not to be taken as a concern that feeds a neurotic approach, nor too much as a wrong kind of surrendering to be supported by the others. The inner human belongs to circles of friends in a similar way as the outer, but entirely in its own world, with other kinds of laws. 10
This word corresponds to the biblical word amen, and in certain intented use, of the sanskrit mantra aum [ôm]. It is a stamp and an assurance for the straightened practice. The pledge 11 for truth present thrice at the end of the Celestial Hymns has been brought here in to one single word. ”Verily” at the end of a formula for the soul is a reminder of binding all words and thoughts to truthfulness, which at the same time inevitably links them to the sacred spirit of Meaning. In such a way the sacred fire is given birth by a serious and honest striving.
- Or to try it. Although none of these preconditions have had a requirement of flawlesness – which would be absurd and impossible to ask even from a teacher, much less from a student – the period of probation is apt to reveal new challenges in the life of the student. Thus many who have just stepped in to the inner group or are about to, soon notice that their life doesn’t yet enable increasing intensity in the soul with the pressure building up. ↩
- The structures of the Star of Azazel have sought to be created in ways that would avoid the problems of its forerunners sharing similar inspiration, namely the Theosophical Society and the Golden Dawn. Both of these groups broke down from problems of social psychology: practically the yearning for power, envy, and jealousy of the shared teachings. This is one of the many reasons why the operation of the Star of Azazel has always striven to be kept as open and transparent as possible, while taking personal tones into consideration with the emphasis of working together – the upward striving karma yoga. ↩
- The ”Ideological field to work outside the group” requires that someone or some group eventually takes care of the work and observes that it works as it should, which gives birth to the guiding group; on what level the guiding happens in a group aiming for the ”inner occult practice” is obvious. The division can be problematized in a new age method which operates on the kind of surface level of practices where ”anything goes, if it seems to work”. But such a utilitarian way to relate to the soul and the laws of magic seems to me to be the opposite of upward path occultism. ↩
- I.e. a brother in the 5th grade has gone through the three first grades as well as one color aspect emphasis, and is currently in the second emphasis. ↩
- In the circle of Graal, the title of the seventh grade guide is Prelate (Praelatus). The purpose of the Praelatus is to strive to keep the grade work as a tool of the higher occult hierarchy – ”the unseen masters” – in other words, to take care that its operation serves orderly the universally uplifting inspiration of ascending occultism. ↩
- The contrivers of Graal lodge and its work are the esotericists i.e. Hermeticists of the previous central administration, under the guidance of yours truly. ↩
- For example (4°). ↩
- Etymologically ”imprinting” connects to the doctrine of archetypes. This means for example that an esotericist strives to connect ones life with a higher archetype, through which one is to transcend the profane by finding the secret meaning concealed into what is found from this side. Usually this happens by finding a raising perspective to things: karma becomes a dharma, from suffering and toil is revealed the secret, redeeming, inner starry sky. But this process is demanding, long and often heavy. ↩
- Auric envelope. ↩
- It is beneficial for a Hermetist, or for someone striving to be, to acquaint oneself with H.P. Blavatsky’s Practical Occultism and its commentary presented in this website, which presents challenges of an occult group, in mostly valid ways – although with potentially problematic emphases of the times of the old world. Still, a serious aspirant must remember the original purpose for the publication: to point out the level of challenges in esotericism with examples of a certain system. Thus it is not an exact manual as such for every single Hermetic group. ↩
- ”Amên, Amên, Amêth.” ↩