fra Nefastos 2020,
English translation by fra Smaragd, sor Polyhymnia & fra Silvaeon
This is the first in a series of articles where I present a new form of study, which is a possible type of membership in The Star of Azazel, and to be specific, in its Graal lodge.
I’ll start by briefly providing a background of Graal in The Star of Azazel.
Graal was founded under exceptionally fortunate stars on the 14th of May in the year 2018. The two founders, I and Fra Fatuus, had both separately come up with the same idea of founding a lodge with this particular name to continue the work of the renewed society into a new direction.
Graal has been focusing on intensive and intimate work, allowing me to lecture on occult subjects with increasing depth, which might not have been as favourable to do in a different context. This increasing inwardness connects to the Rosicrucian emphasis of Graal, placing the lodge behind two locks:
(1) By sending an application to The Star of Azazel, every applicant has had to conquer his doubts towards the name of Satan. Satan – the most difficult and accused character of all mythologies and demonologies – has been the gatekeeper, turning away all potential members who are either unable to understand the purposed nature of such a difficult rendezvous or, coming to the confluence, are not willing to leave the downward demonism from himself.
(2) Satanism is difficult, yet not an impossible gatekeeper for all temperaments. Some people identify with the fallen angel, the contender, the outcast, and the uneasy being, or see a sacred meaning in her form. But the more potentially meaningful Satan feels, the less sensible the archetype of Christ usually feels; especially in its current form moulded by the Church’s theology: the sleekest of characters easily identifiable with hypocrisy. Thus, also basing the work of Graal under Christian oriented occultism has been apt to turn away those few who were able to pass Satan as a gatekeeper.
These two locks, along with the fact that taking part in the work of Graal requires a prerequisite of taking part in the activities of another lodge, as well as recommendations from two other members, has made the lodge esoteric in an emphasized way.
In this esoteric egg, we have been lately brooding on a new form for fraternity work, striving to answer the so-called Trial by Air – often rising as a fatal challenge for the members of The Star of Azazel.
What is a Trial by Air? A Trial by Air is the name of the test which the student or aspirant (ie. occultist) commencing his/her practical work faces through freedom. The Star of Azazel, which has been contrived to unite even quite different kinds of esoteric structures, began with the idea of the largest possible freedom of its members. The society has striven to give an open space to grow and discuss, and to study and practice alone, or together, regardless of the student’s own temperamental base: philosophical, religious, creative, ceremonial, or otherwise. These different perspectives have been present in a way that allows a variety of approaches, including those that shun structure and guidance of an authority. This freedom has been an essential part of the operations of The Star of Azazel. From this type of leadership, and the structure which we name as a “living tree” has followed the aspects, from those the lodges, and from those, other ways of working. Whenever there are members who want to do things in a different way than what’s typical in the fraternity, their way of working has been made possible without any other limits other than the ethical principles of the fraternity.
This principle reached its vastest possible application in the structural change of 2018. It was agreed then, that The Star of Azazel will no longer uphold central management, but every lodge can work free from the basis of our constitution, which is quite short, without being accountable to any sort of headquarters. In this way, an open structure was created where every lodge can operate without structural compromises, according to their ideals, to decide on their practices and customs in full independence.
For the work of Graal, this has meant the possibility to prepare a method of working that will allow a more clearly guided base for practice. This method is occultism with formal grades.
For an outsider, occultism with a graded system might be the most familiar operational model of occult societies. It is based, more or less, on linearly adopted practices and installations, ie. Initiations. 1 These practices, observing them and progressing in them, will come from above the guiding brothers, and precisely this hierarchical structure in all its possibilities for corruption has in the past been apt for waking considerable anxiety in many. For this reason, the grading system was not incorporated in its previous structure with central management. There are no wishes to force members who would like to stay away from guided practicing to take part in such a system; instead, they have full freedom to organize their esoteric studies under The Star of Azazel’s principles in a way that suits them.
During this Summer, two full seven-year cycles will come to pass from the founding of The Star of Azazel. This fourteen-year-old society has gone through the childhood years with sufficient merit, and can now add something to its practices in the beginning first period of youth. As in the light of what has been presented above, it is only one possibility among many – one new way of practicing in addition to previous ones – and takes nothing away from previous work methods.
The extensive experience indicates that the “Trial by Air” is too much for most members. Perfect freedom is often paralyzing, and its grips have frozen a large number of brothers and sisters. What to do, when almost nothing is prohibited? What sort of practices should one choose, what should one strive towards, and by what means? In this perplexity there is something characteristic of our present time, I believe. Many ways of working have risen in the lodges following the free form, but only a few of those have endured.
Again and again, I’ll come back to the fifth principle of the society: every man is his own saviour. This is a concept that cannot change in any method of practice, no matter how thoroughly constructed. Through this new method, Graal only strives to give its members one way to periodize, administrate, and to proceed in their work. It cannot produce advancement to anyone, but in addition to the previous signposts, it can try its best to create, for those willing, an increasingly strait path and a narrow gate, to pass through with further practice and a focused mind.
The esoteric path presented by Graal divides itself into three phases, ie. grades. Each grade works under specific emphasis similar to the three aspects familiar from the society’s structure: Black, Red, and White. In a way, the aspects correspond to the grades and act as their inspiring “godmothers”. Unlike in the aspects, proceeding from one grade to another is linear. The student carries out different kinds of occult practices, the progress of which he reports to the guide of the grade. The guide, together with the other guides in Graal, helps the practicing member and keeps their eyes on his chances to proceed to the following grade.
The practices in each grade are concentric: the second and third-grade practices are mainly more in-depth versions of those in the corresponding first-grade, taken further. Inspired by The Star of Azazel’s basic principles – first and foremost the Triple Key – these practices aim for developing, sensitizing, and stabilizing tendencies relevant in occultism. They strive to develop a wholesome prowess, starting from creative imaginative skills, to balance, and further onwards to cognitive and ethical facilities. Emphasis on each phase of work is different, with their goals of guidance aimed primarily at the depth dimension. In other words, they do not test the memorization of information, but the ability to apply structures in a personally meaningful way, yet containing the sacred otherness 2.
For a member who has chosen the training path in Graal, no certain timeframe is demanded of the work – instead, she can proceed by the rhythm granted by individual possibilities, taking the years needed for the process. Naturally, they can also decide to stay permanently in one of the grades. Going through the three grades of Graal will lead the student to the hermetic group of the Star of Azazel, in case she is willing to take part in such work for the whole.
If a student has not completed the minimum of one practice during a year, they are seen to have opted out of Graal’s grade work. Again, the functionality of the Hermetic grades depend on the student’s ability for ethical, uniting and conversing work. Hermetic connection is not possible for a student, whose open or secret spur is personal desire for power, or whose approach is otherwise contradictory to the aims and methods presented in the constitution of the Star of Azazel. (A note from the guides, 2023)
The Graal practices utilize different forms of magical praxis ie. yoga: gnanayoga (cognitive), mantrayoga (prayer), karmayoga (acting out, ie. serving), ritual emphasis &c. The student needs not to perform every single practice. Instead in each phase, every grade having many, she can choose between two practices while each practice includes individually distinctive possibilities. In this way the Graal path of occult praxis strives to incorporate the essential principle in The Star of Azazel, that is, uniting the hands and freedom of choice between different kinds of approaches.
In subsequent articles throughout this year, I will expound the symbolism of the path of grades, practicalities relating to time, as well as passing references of the forms of practice. I will also gladly receive questions to answer or to deal with, in the upcoming numbers in this series of articles. The first grade of Graal will open for the members of The Star of Azazel at the end of the current year.
- In the worldly meaning of the word. Only Nature is able to initiate a human being into the higher mysteries; the initiations of a fraternity can only aim to aid in this process of deeper nature. ↩
- By sacred otherness (ie. Otherness) I mean the deep mystery belonging to the world not to be controlled by oneself, but something that reveals the vast variety of facets of the whole. Each confrontation with people, nature, and even the “lower self” of the aspirant is a confrontation with the sacred otherness. Occultism should not build up to under- or over-perform the demand for control, for confronting otherness is one of the most meaningful aspects of it. ↩