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A shortcut to initiation. That was the promise of the magical order G∴B∴G∴—The Great Brotherhood of God—and the promised benefit in The Complete Magick Curriculum of the Secret Order G∴B∴G∴ by Louis T. Culling, originally published in 1969.
What do we mean?
"Initiation" is one of those multiple-use words that can mean many different things. It is commonly used to describe the relatively innocuous (usually) social rituals for pledging and hazing of college students into fraternities and sororities; to describe often physically and sexually abusive (and not always voluntary) admission into teen and criminal gangs; the ceremonial admissions into social, academic, and professional associations; and sometimes the complex and symbolical rich "grade" rituals in magical, Masonic, religious, and esoteric orders suggestive of "graduation" ceremonies awarding academic degrees.
In the true Occult (and psychological) sense, initiation is more an inner experience than an outer one—even though a dramatic expert magical ritual may induce an inner transformation and flowering of the psychic potentials and powers of the person. Despite the promises of various teachers, gurus, priests, and adepts, it is less something done to the person and more something that happens "when the student is ready." And that means just what it says—there comes a "tipping point" resulting from the student’s growth and not merely the culmination of arduous work and study.
It has been called a "tearing away of the veil," so that the new initiate now sees with new eyes, and perceives a world of greater complexity—one of added dimensions, forces, and living beings. Progressive initiations mark further growth and development as the person becomes more of the Whole Person each of is intended to be. The potential is there from birth and before, and can be realized through knowledge, experience, and growth practices.
A State of Consciousness
The subconscious mind is always connected with the collective unconscious or universal consciousness, and there is always a flow between the subconscious and the conscious mind. The conscious mind draws upon the subconscious for forgotten memories and certain kinds of knowledge, but it also draws upon particular functions including those we identify as "psychic faculties" that can become dependable and powerful skills when consciously developed.
Part of our growth as human beings involves the integration of useful memories and knowledge and those psychic faculties along with other elements of the unconscious into consciousness. Some of this involves "healing" of distorted and false feelings from childhood and previous lives now seen with adult clarity; some of it involves changes in perspective from a purely reactionary and emotion driven personality to a life guided by rationality and idealism; and finally there is an actual evolutionary expansion of our consciousness capacity.
Think of that “bubble” of light as your field of awareness. Your goal is to eventually light up that whole container, and even the space around it. Initiation brings a sudden and substantial expansion of that Light. Despite various claims, Initiation cannot be "given" to you by a guru or great master, nor can it automatically happen as part of a ritual even if it is the culmination of a rigorous training program.
In the very real sense of the word, Initiation has to be earned and learned as part of the process of becoming more than you are—and yet it is more than learning and involves an influx of energy that cleanses and transforms the person in particular ways as if switching on previously unused circuits in the physical brain and etheric centers.
This Initiation is not a grade or title; it is not worn as a ring or ritual robe, there is no certificate to hang on your wall. It is a transformation of self into Self—a union of Personality into the Higher Self that was referred to magically as the “Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel.” It is the initiation that marks your transition from a mostly unconscious human being to a mostly conscious Whole Person.
There are many Paths to the Centre (becoming Whole), but this Magickal Operation has the advantages of being designed just for that purpose. Even the solitary Magick of Abramelin the Mage required six months (eighteen months per a later and more accurate translation of the 17th Century German book) for accomplishment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
The G∴B∴G∴ was neither a "social" club nor a traditional magical order in which other magical operations and celebrations might be practiced. The "Shortcut to Initiation" was the substance of the G∴B∴G's work. Each lodge group met often and regularly, repeating the ritual again and again without loss of pertinence and interest.
Why? Because the program speaks to the soul of the aspirant. The Higher Self is gathering the strands of self-discovery as the Lower and Middle Selves work their way through daily life, weaving those strands into thicker skeins to become the Rainbow Bridge of conscious integration made possible through life-experience.
Together or Alone?
Whether we think of it as psychological or spiritual, our goal is that of increased "Enlightenment"—expanding that bubble of light in the container of our self hood. Our "Initiation" is continuous just as Consciousness is universal and infinite. The Great Work of self-growth, self-development, and self-transformation never ceases as we become more than we are as a Whole Person.
There is no discernible end to our personal growth and evolution just as there are no discernible limits the universe. We may not know what we will become but as we share in Consciousness with all there is I am sure we will each always have progressively greater roles to fulfill.
What is the meaning of this? The Magician knows that every action and every thought produces a reaction, and as we grow psychically and spiritually we grow in power and we must grow in awareness of what our actions mean in relation to the greater whole. We must grow in understanding of the Great Plan.
Yes, all of these are big and presumptuous ideas, but that has always been what Magick and Spirituality are about.
Not only have I added extensive explanations and commentary to each chapter along with discussion points to facilitate both group and solitary study, but I have also written my own beliefs and understanding of Magick in principle and practice.
I accept that some of what I've written may be called "controversial," and may be criticized for saying too much, but I accept that knowingly. I am not writing as a scholar, but as a living philosopher devoting my life to psychic and spiritual development—my own and as proponent of what I still comfortably call "New Age." As a publisher of New Age subjects for over a half century, I helped create a market making it possible for such knowledge to reach literally millions of readers in many countries and languages. I truly believe that this New Age is real, with many people actually achieving higher levels of Enlightenment. And it is for that sense—that "Initiation" is really for everybody and not the few working in secret—that this book was written.
This book has extended definitions and offers guidance through "discussion points" after each chapter to make these profound magickal practices and philosophies accessible and relevant not only to contemporary magicians but to all who believe we are in a New Age and who—dare I say it?—believe in magic. Life is magical! Take away the magic and all you will have is a corpse. Take away the magic and the universe will be dead and gray. But believe in magic and you believe in your own power to make a better life for yourself and for others, in our ability to change and contribute to a better world, and—finally—to make Love a guiding principle of behavior as was written: Love is the Law, and the Law is for All!
You will find that that this book gives answers to a number of questions about historical occult orders and personages and gives particulars about beliefs & practices and philosophical concepts, including techniques of Dream Recall and Interpretation, Functioning in Borderland Consciousness, Finding your own True Magickal Identity, Ritual Divination, the Invocation of Thoth, the three degrees of Sex Magick in G∴B∴G∴ practice, Thelema and the Magickal Will, Conversation with a God, Lunar Trances, the Rite of Transubstantiation, the I Ching, Magickal Gestures & Postures, the Oracular Meanings of the 64 Hexagrams, Use and Pronunciation of Barbarous Words, Group Ritual, the Qabalah of Numbers. The book also includes Chapter One of the Book of the Law with Commentary. I have added a detailed 23,000 word glossary, of which I take special pride.
But this is not an "about" book—it is definitely "how to," and includes practical applications of most of the G∴B∴G∴ "technologies." Even G∴B∴G∴ Sex Magick has practical applications as well as the primary goal of disciplined consciousness expansion. This is a characteristic of G∴B∴G∴ practices—they were not an elitist social organization (an unfortunate characteristic of many esoteric groups whose members even fear "contamination" from contact with the un-enlightened), nor did they proselytize to "bring the less fortunate into the fold."
G∴B∴G∴ lodges were small and devoted to the one thing—the Great Work of self-growth, development, and transformation. They employed many methods but all within a consistent step-by-step program to accomplish that goal. Let me assure you, however, this is not a dry, dull, boring book of challenging and demanding practices taking one away from family life and other interests. You will find Culling’s special sparkle flowing through the text, delight in his curious choice of words, and find hidden lessons within lessons. It may not be a "page turner," but you will find pages and paragraphs as enjoyable as were lively conversations with this man who lived his beliefs throughout his life and expressing it through love and laughter and serious commitment to the Great Work.
In describing what's in this book I am describing the Magick of the Great Brotherhood of God, which Culling called "the most efficient program for union with the Holy Guardian Angel." Together we are also telling the story of the occult scene in America in the 1930s and 40s, short items about some of the characters of the times (including Llewellyn George, Manly Hall, L. Ron Hubbard, Jack Parsons, C. F. Russell, Aleister Crowley, and others), about the Great Depression and life on the small ranch Culling bought in the foothills outside of San Diego that his daughter still owns, and the story of Culling's own life joining in the great migration to the "promised land" of Southern California.
Culling's own story is a magical mystery tour and my part in adding to the story is my own occult adventure.
I hope you will likewise enjoy the adventure and benefit from this Shortcut to Initiation.
Carl Llewellyn Weschcke
Carl Llewellyn Weschcke (Minnesota) was the owner and chairman of Llewellyn Worldwide, the world's oldest and largest metaphysical publisher. He played a seminal role in the rise of Wicca and Neo-Paganism in the 1960s and ...