As head of lodge Phanes I will answer to your query with my best ability. Bear in mind that these are lodge Phanes & my take on your questions; other lodges may have slightly different ways of doing things. Overall we have fairly similar rules in all our lodges, but for example the criteria for being accepted a member may wary slightly.
1. Once you join, are you free to leave at any point, no questions asked?
This is a strange thing to ask, especially as it is your very first question. It does make me wonder slightly what is the level of motivation in being in this or any occult society. Do you wish simply to test the door and run at the first sight of challenge or disappointment?
The Star of Azazel doesn't hold people hostage. In lodge Phanes we even expel inactive people, because we wish to focus our collective time and energy for the benefit of those who wish to put in the work themselves for the benefit of us all, not on passive freeriders. Often this is a hard and lonely path, like growing a garden in the desert. The fruits are ripened by man's own personal effort. It takes a hell of a lot of carrying water.
Any time a person leaves, I will ask them why
, because of course I wish to know the reason for their going. This helps me to see more clearly how I as lodge guide can do a better job. It's also rude to leave and not say bye & why to others who put their time and effort into you. Other than that I have no reason to keep in touch with ex-members (unless we've become close friends) and neither have I time nor the interest to do it. As the more long term readers of our forums have noticed, some previous members are still active on our forum, partaking into our work in the form of conversation. In short, we are not fundamentalistic about this. The world is not black and white; occult work is not suitable for everyone and that's ok.
LoopGodel wrote:2. How is ones personal information kept private? I don't know if you scan the application & store it on-line or whatever.
I keep the written applications filed, and the group within Phanes who decide on applications read the applications. As we are in different countries, your application is scanned & sent to these people to read. Quite naturally the lodge members also know one another's identity, but to non-members we don't ever tell this information. I don't care if you are famous or a nobody, makes not the slightest difference to how we handle your application. If you are in a country where the danger of for example violent assault or persecution due to satanic connection is a actual threat, please let us know and we will keep all communication strictly online -so no written letters to you will be sent-, and of course you are responsible for having a safe internet connection at your end.
Joining any occult society is a leap of faith. And while it's good to be careful, in the end it does boil down to are you able and willing to trust us or not
. With that said, I always encourage considering what one writes on our forums, how much personal information are you willing to put online.
LoopGodel wrote:3. When one joins, does this mean that one is able to communicate with a more established member directly, rather than just the forum boards?
We do not offer a pupil-teacher kind of relationship within Phanes, but of course you are free to email anyone you like, as they are free to answer to it when or if they like. For who can with authority teach another to understand themselves? And how would we elect such a teacher- should the person be older than the pupil? Or wiser, and how could that be measured? Or perhaps the longest term member we have? You see how very quickly this gets difficult; such relationships are very sensitive in nature as teaching position always has huge responsibility. Occultism is dangerous. We do not believe in handing down knowledge from "above". And although perhaps one should come to the work like coming to a temple, Lodge Phanes is a circle where we stand together, not a pyramid one climbs getting level this and that titles and following instructions others give. And that is usually the hardest part, because majority of people find it very difficult to function independently, regardless of what they say.
We all have equal opportunity to shine, one simply needs to find their way.
For those accepted as members, we offer a tutor. A tutor's task is to help the new person integrate in the lodge, learn how things function logistically and basically, to feel more at home. Anything outside of that is a plus. Our members may become close friends and converse in length between themselves, start work together, or they may not. It's impossible to predict these things.
LoopGodel wrote:4. What does membership look like, in terms of time involvement, what is expected regarding constructive contribution from a member?
Within Phanes, our members are:
- Minimum 18 years of age
- Partake actively in the work of the lodge, be that mundane (such as translating works, logistic stuff) or spiritual (development of self, partaking to possible group work).
- Communicate with others in a respectful way, always answer to the lodge guide/acolyte when they are asked something (we do this perhaps once a month)
- Understand that other members have personal lives & commitments outside of the fraternity as well
- Suggest, converse, develop, hopefully also participate on the forums because this is a good place to share and gain information with non-members and members in other lodges
- Above all things understand that man alone can raise himself; there is no outside power or person who can do that. The work is one's own, but its fruits are to be shared with the world. We seek to better ourselves as persons. We understand that our actions directly affect the world. We have full responsibility, and therefore, full freedom over ourselves.
- Yes it takes time and effort, depending on one's duties. The bigger the decision power or project, the bigger the responsibility and commitment need be. Often this means sacrificing one's own time. For myself as guide, this is work I do for others every day. I daresay our acolyte is in a similar position. But we do this willingly, as it is a form of karmayoga.
To what does one then need the fraternity? To nothing, or to everything: each person must themselves make that decision. It's hard studying things which are perhaps of no interest to people in our daily lives, to never having the possibility to mirror one's thoughts, to get feedback on them. It's also slightly safer studying or practising when one is a member so there is help or advise available if things go wrong. It's great to get new friends from all corners of the world, perhaps even (as has happened to me, not sure of anyone else!) forging such bonds of trust and love that one never thought possible. And to do that lonely journey of discovery knowing that tonight, my brothers and sisters recite the same hymn in candle lit rooms to reach closer to understanding.