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Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure

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Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 12/26/16 10:58 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 12/27/16 2:19 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure shargrol 12/27/16 6:06 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 12/27/16 6:25 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 12/27/16 9:24 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 12/28/16 2:24 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 12/28/16 3:17 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 12/28/16 3:42 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 12/29/16 2:12 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Noah D 12/27/16 11:58 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 12/28/16 2:05 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 12/29/16 2:08 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 12/30/16 1:28 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 12/31/16 11:48 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 1/1/17 6:52 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 1/9/17 9:50 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 10/8/17 2:39 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 10/10/17 9:11 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 10/11/17 1:57 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 10/11/17 7:43 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 10/13/17 12:30 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 10/13/17 10:19 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 10/13/17 11:22 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 10/14/17 10:27 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 10/16/17 10:07 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 10/17/17 12:34 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Jamess 10/16/17 10:51 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 10/17/17 12:41 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 11/3/17 4:50 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure . Jake . 11/6/17 1:41 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 11/6/17 2:48 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure . Jake . 11/7/17 1:03 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Andrew B. 3/27/18 6:44 PM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 4/2/18 1:51 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Jordi 4/5/18 3:21 AM
RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure Pål R 4/6/18 11:19 PM
Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/26/16 10:58 PM
It occurs to me that there may be at least a handful of people on this forum with more than a passing interest in the path of Magick as a pragmatic approach to real Awakening, so I thought it would be a good idea to start a practice log here for anyone with such an interest to enjoy and benefit from.

Recently (a few weeks ago) I sent an e-mail contacting the A.'. A.'. (David Shoemaker's lineage). They responded very quickly and sent me a PDF with an FAQ and a set of initial instructions.

My first step is to acquire a number of particular books with which to thoroughly familiarize myself (though not necessarily to understand in any depth) over a minimum of three months (I plan on taking at least a year). After that time, I can request an examination of my familiarity with the material, and if I pass, I qualify for the Probationer grade of the order.

Now that the holidays are over I mean to start getting my hands on those books as quickly as I can!

That's the basic gist so far. I'm not sure how much else I should put in this initial post, so I'm just going to leave it as is for now. I don't know how frequently I'm going to update this thread either -- I suppose that will depend on my actual practice. But in the meantime I invite any questions and comments from people here, magical or otherwise, since I think this could open up some very interesting dialogues!

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/27/16 2:19 AM as a reply to Andrew B..
This is wonderful, since I myself am considering joining the A.'.A.'.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/27/16 6:25 AM as a reply to Andrew B..
How much of a thelemite do you have to be inbthe AA? I'm much more comfortable in a christian theosophical paradigm when it comes to theurgy and the New Aeon stuff doesn't resonate with me.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
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12/27/16 6:06 AM as a reply to Pål R.
I'm interested and following along, too...

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/27/16 9:24 AM as a reply to Pål R.
I don't have a definite answer to this question at the moment, but it's my current understanding that, the A.'. A.'. being a highly individualistic system, you don't necessarily have to subscribe to any one particular ideology to join it. However, I imagine one would be a lot more comfortable working the system with more of a New Aeon bent than otherwise.

That said, I sympathize completely, and still find myself at times a little less than comfortable with many aspects of Thelema. I will say that when I finally decided that the time was right for me to get into contact with the A.'. A.'., it wasn't so much because I was more comfortable with that label as it was that I was more comfortable and confident in myself and my practice that I wasn't so beholden to any one label to let that hold me back anymore. (On this point, I'm in agreement with Israel Regardie that it's probably a good idea to take about a year of professional therapy before embarking on any serious magical work. One of the kindest things I've ever done for myself.)

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/27/16 11:58 PM as a reply to Andrew B..
 I don't know how frequently I'm going to update this thread either -- I suppose that will depend on my actual practice.

Great idea for a log.  The most epic and useful practice logs have both quality and longevity.  Consider setting a regular update interval, such as 1x week, allowing yourself to post more if you wish, but not less.  I have found this strategy to be helpful with practice logging.

Edit: Even if just to say - "Not much practice this week."

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/28/16 2:05 PM as a reply to Noah D.
Thank you for the encouraging praise and good advice. I was thinking of probably shooting for something like once a week.

I should be back here to put another post up very soon, after I get a few things done today or tomorrow.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/28/16 2:24 PM as a reply to Andrew B..
How does ideas about there being some New Aeon going on show up in the system as you currently understand it? Also, I'm very interested in what impression you get from the egregore once you get to probationer. 

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/28/16 3:17 PM as a reply to Pål R.
My idea of the Aeons in Thelema is that they represent different models of attainment. The Old Aeon focuses on suffering and escape from wordly existence, while the New Aeon seems to fall more in line with tantric ideals. I'm open to various interpretations of the Aeons, but tend to take them all with a little bit of a grain of salt.

I'm not sure what you're referring to as egregore in this context. I'm familiar with the word from chaos magick, but what specifically are you calling an egregore here?

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/28/16 3:42 PM as a reply to Andrew B..
Looks like I'll have to look more carefully into thelemic philosophy. In this context, by egregore I mean the "hive mind" of the order. Members of initiatory societies, and especially, I think, true adepts, effect one another in subtle unussual ways. 

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/29/16 2:08 PM as a reply to Andrew B..
I thought it might be a good idea to give a sort of an introductory summarization of myself and my practice up to this point in order to give this current log a little bit of context.

To start with the present: I am a 28-year-old white male living on the East Coast of the United States. My main practice at the moment consists of daily meditation (though I've fallen off of this during the last couple days, what with the holidays and all), and daily journaling, plus an on again / off again practice of Liber Resh. (I'm at an on-again point at this jucture.) I do a lot of tarot as well and have kind of become the resident tarot reader at my job, but that's more for divinatory fun than spiritual praxis. (Though the tarot does provide a useful symbolic language for a lot of this stuff -- there's another map/model!)

For meditation I've been following Culadasa's "The Mind Illuminated." It's been good for me so far, as before really following this book I was getting myself quite anxious and rigid in my meditation practice, causing myself a lot more neurosis than gnosis. (Ha!) That said, I haven't managed to get past the first two stages of Culadasa's map. (Actually, by his criteria, I might be closer to Stage 3, but I find the practices he lays out for that stage especially difficult in their precision, so for now I'm just going very slowly step by step through the earlier techniques, gradually adding things as I go along.)

Regarding my approach to the system of A.'. A.'.: Boy, where do I start? I've had a strong interest in magick and the occult for about as long as I can remember. Well before I became interested in Buddhism. As a matter of fact, if it weren't for the occult, I probably never would have gotten so deep into Buddhism, and if it weren't for getting deep into Buddhism, I wouldn't have found my way back to the occult!

When I joined my first Buddhist group (a local Zen group teaching a mixture of Soto and Rinzai), I was identifying myself most strongly as a Hermeticist. I hadn't read much Crowley at that point yet, but I was aware of him. Being with the Zen group helped my form a more regular meditation practice for myself and also allowed myself to explore my own spirituality in a way that felt comfortable and safe. (My mother was/is a born-again Christian, which made any really explicit practice and study of the occult difficult.) Pretty soon I began identifying very strongly as a Zen Buddhist. I never completely lost interest in the occult, but it did fall into the background a bit, as Buddhism more heavily informed my worldview.

Over time though, I found myself growing increasingly disillusioned with Buddhism. There were two main factors to this: one was the mushroom culture of Buddhism -- Buddhism as it was practiced and thought of in the West didn't seem truly authentic to me. Either it was watered down to the point of being a lot of New Agey feel-good-ism, or it was formalized to the point of just seeming like a bunch of white people dressing up and playing at Eastern religion.

(I worry that I might be running a risk of offending some people at this point. This is not my intention. I simply want to relay some of the cognitive dissonance I was struggling with at this time, and it's hard to describe accurately because most of it was more vague feeling that clear-cut thought and belief, with a lot of contradictory things going on at once.)

The other side of that coin was traditional Buddhism, which seemed more authentic, but also very conservative and borderline puritanical and not very much unlike the attitudes of Catholicism that I had rejected in the first place. Of course there are more nuances than this, but I couldn't get past the feeling, and the more I tried to convince myself otherwise, the more I just felt like I was trying to make excuses for myself, thereby increasing this feeling of inauthenticity.

On top of all of this I have had at times a tendency to fall into dogmatic ways of thinking, and often for a set of contradictory dogmas, which has a paralyzing effect on good practice. I'm sure this was some sort of defence mechanism on my part.

Around this same time I had discovered the Dharma Overground and read Daniel Ingram's book, was listening to a lot of Buddhist Geeks, and also discovered Alan Chapman and Duncan Barford and The Baptist's Head. All of this really shifted my practice to more of a pragmatic dharma focus. This has been very significant. It has determined the course of my own spiritual path ever since. However, the focus on more goal-oriented and Theravada-influenced practice also fed into a lot of the negative stuff I just listed above. It wasn't until a disastrous romantic relationship finally got me into therapy, and the following year of CBT and talk therapy that came out of that, that I actually managed to get over all of that. I've got a much stronger sense of self now (in psychotherapeutic terms), am much more confident and less neurotic. This was, more than anything else, the deciding factor that led to me getting into contact with the A.'. A.'. It had been something I had really wanted to do for many years, but never really expected to do for a long time. One day, it just felt like the right time. I felt I was able to just do it, and that I could and would deal with any obstacles that got in my way as they came up. This is, I would say at this point in time, an even more significant paradigm shift for me than discovering pragmatic dharma. It will be interesting to see how the two feed into each other in the coming future.

I hope there are many more paradigm shifts to come!

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/29/16 2:12 PM as a reply to Pål R.
Okay, I see what you mean. I'll be sure to update you on that once I do get to Probationer!

I recommend the writings of IAO131 and David Shoemaker, both of which can be found online. They are both very level-headed Thelemites. Shoemaker has a great podcast called Living Thelema, though it doesn't really get updated anymore. He has a book based on the podcast of the same name, though I haven't read it. He is (as far as I know) the current head of the A.'. A.'. lineage I am in contact with.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/30/16 1:28 AM as a reply to Andrew B..
That actually sounds a lot like my own history of approaching "spiritual" systems, although buddhism for me has been mostly self study of theravada and getting back on the occult track also has kind of made me a christian again. Not at the expense of practicing buddhism though. 

"As a matter of fact, if it weren't for the occult, I probably never would have gotten so deep into Buddhism, and if it weren't for getting deep into Buddhism, I wouldn't have found my way back to the occult!"

This emoticon

David Shoemakers podcast has helped me a lot with somewhat comprehending the ToL and the tarot. IAO131 looks interesting, thanks!

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
12/31/16 11:48 AM as a reply to Pål R.
If you like, I'd be interested in hearing how the occult track brought you back around to Christianity. Though maybe not in this particular thread, lest it get too far off topic.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
1/1/17 6:52 AM as a reply to Andrew B..
Please PM me if you want to know more, I don't understand the messaging system. You don't seem to show up as a possible recipient.

Edit: Or maybe you'd be satisfied with the short answer that most theurgists I know are christians involved in different kinds of freemasonry. 

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
1/9/17 9:50 PM as a reply to Andrew B..
A quick update, since I was lazy last week and didn't post one. I'll be better from now on, I promise!

I got the first book on the Student reading list in the mail the other day: Gems From the Equinox. This is a hefty thousand-some-odd pages volume compiled by Israel Regardie from the pages of Crowley's periodical, The Equinox. (The original reading list actually instructs the Student to obtain the entire Equinox series from Number I to the current Number, but the Order currently recognizes that this is difficult to do both financially and in general, and allows the Student to opt only to acquire Gems and The Holy Books of Thelema -- as it is, Holy Books is also a bit on the pricey side, so I'll probably be getting that one a bit later.)

This is a pretty cool item to own in general and I'm pretty excited about it. However, I've still got a bunch more texts to get my hands on before I start my actual study.

This is all pretty long and tedious, huh? I expect it will only get worse before it gets better! But I realize I'm probably not going to have a whole lot to say about my A.'.A.'. ventures for a good while here, and I doubt anyone really wants to read a log all about my esoteric shopping habits!

Luckily, I've got other dharma practices going parallel that I can blather on about here, so I'll probably keep all the occult study stuff to a relative minimum until I've got a good bit more than a relative minimum to say.

That said:

I pared down my meditation time during the first week of 2017 a bit and am working on building up my time again at a somewhat faster pace. (I was adding a minute of sitting time each day, but kept skipping days and starting over and whatnot, and by the first day of the new year I was only at 26 minutes. Previously when I had done it this way I had managed to work my way up to a full hour for the first time in my life, but after a couple of sessions of that fell off and haven't been able to get back up to that length since.) As I think I said in a previous post I've been following Culadasa's meditation guidelines as laid out in The Mind Illuminated. I did consistent 10-minute sits for the first week of the year. (Well, consistently 10 minutes -- I missed a day here and there.) This week I'm doing 15-minute sits. This morning I started doing the 6-point checklist and 4-step transition to the breath advised in Stage One of TMI. I've found that sometimes this works for me and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I'll just sit down and go straight into concentrating on the breath at the nose and find that my concentration is much sharper than if I had gone into it gradually. I think the gradual approach to the meditation object is a good technique when the mind is a little bit more agitated and I'm feeling more resistant to practice. Sometimes, though, I find that my mind can have more of a tendency to wander when I go into it so softly as opposed to otherwise.

One last thing that is only really tangentially related to my practice (that's a lie: I would say it's very much related, it's just not so techical and dharma-y): I've begun to recognize a lot of regret that tends to arise in me emotionally that I get very much caught up in and tossed around by. Primarily in terms of previous relationships. This has fed into a lot of toxic attitudes regarding relationships and sexuality that I will proceed to drive myself crazy with, and this further throws a huge wedge into my practice as well. All of this is stuff I've regularly gone over again and again with my therapist. Well, I recognized that the main issue that kept coming up for me was the regret, and that it wasn't really so much about sex and intimacy and relationships after all (at least not directly), so I decided within the past few days to start incorporating a CBT technique I learned early on in my therapy sessions to redirect certain thoughts whenever I happen to catch them arising. (This seems very Dharmic to me, actually, and I believe a lot of CBT methods are very Buddhist inspired, aren't they?) This has been working wonders for me. It's probably important to note that I think I had to finally get sick of wallowing in my own misery and self-pity all the time before I was able to actually start kicking its ass, but everyone at their own pace I guess, right?

Anyway, I thought that was a relevant point to end this on.

Tune in next week!

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
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10/8/17 2:39 AM as a reply to Andrew B..
How's it going?

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
10/10/17 9:11 PM as a reply to Pål R.
Oh hey! I guess I should update this log, huh?

It's been going well, slowly but surely. I've been taking my leisurely time with it, seeing no need to rush. Acquired physical copies of all the books on the reading list. There is a three-month minimum period granted for study before I can apply for the Student exam. (That's the minimum--I'm probably going to take six months to a year to get a more thorough grounding before applying.)

So, I guess I'm officially a Student of the A.'.A.'.

***

As for my own practice, it's been up and down in terms of consistency, but for the most part has been okay. I've made my meditation less of a central priority as I've been focused more on grounding myself in more "worldly" functions, working on my own emotional stuff in therapy and in daily life and focusing on my relationships with the people around me. It's sort of funny: one of my concerns in setting out on the Magical path was that it could inflate my ego in unhealthy ways, but I've found that the opposite has been true. Certainly, between my therapy sessions and my magical studies I've found an all-around increase and stabilization of my sense of self and esteem thereof, it's been a very balanced and positive thing, and as a result I've been generally more effective in daily tasks and more confident in my spiritual pursuits. At the same time, my very sense of being of a spiritual path has sort of calmed down, so to speak. I find that I'm less "enchanted" by high-falutin' spiritual ideals, more focused on the nitty-gritty of the present moment, giving proper measure to all the planes. It's been humbling in a subtle sort of way.

My minimum three months are almost up, but I've hardly scratched the surface of my reading so far! Yet I've found that the act of studying the texts on the reading list is in itself good practice. It's had a very calming effect on me, and almost seems to be working on my mind and will in subtle ways. Or that could just be me reading things into the process.

***

Hopefully I'll get back on top of this now that you've reminded me of it, so thanks for that!

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
10/11/17 1:57 AM as a reply to Andrew B..
Cool! It's interesting, how reading books might have an effect not only on our intellectual learning process but also on other parts of ones personal developement, I've seen some esotric orders recommend certain books which do not profess their specific doctrin, as a mind expanding excercise. In general it seems to me that western esotericism is very holistic, as in it works with many kinds of personal development at once, as one complete process, compared to pragmatic dharma where people in general seems to work on only morality, concentration and the progress of insight as more distinguished processes. 
What have you read in the curriculum this far?

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
10/11/17 7:43 PM as a reply to Pål R.
This certainly seems to be the case to me.

So far I have read all of Gems from the Equinox (with the exception of the two Reviews sections at the end, which are interesting in itself but less relevant to the Work) and have been working through The Holy Books of Thelema (being The Equinox, Vol. III, Number 9).

The standard reading list has The Equinox (Crowley's occult publication, through which he originally published a lot of the A.'.A.'. texts) Number 1 up to the current number. (The Order currently recognizes this as referring mainly to Volume I, Numbers 1-10 and Volume III, Number 9, which contains the Holy Books--Class A documents allegedly written in high trance or dictated by a higher intelligence--as mentioned above.) That item alone could well comprise its very own reading list, and The Equinox is sort of an eclectic grab-bag of esoteric paraphernalia, so it's a task in itself just to navigate. The Order allows as an alternative to acquiring the entirety of The Equinox the two books mentioned above, which compiles all the really important stuff quite well. Just in case, I do also have all of The Equinox in PDF form on my computer, should I need to refer to something not included in the physical texts.

Like I said, I've hardly scratched the surface! But I'm excited to get onto Raja Yoga next.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
10/13/17 12:30 AM as a reply to Andrew B..
Cool! Having to read all numbers of the Equinoxwoukd have been a bit stupid imo.
Raja yoga, starting off hardcore! 

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
10/13/17 10:19 AM as a reply to Pål R.
Yeah, flipping through Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekenanda doesn't seem to pull any punches when it comes to meditation practice. Probably a big reason why Crowley admired the guy so much. Most of his own teachings on yoga are directly from Vivekenanda and Raja Yoga. (As an interesting aside, I recall reading or listening to an interview with Culadasa somewhere in which he admits that Vivekenanda was an early influence on him. Just thought that was pretty cool.)

To be fair, I technically would not have had to read every number of The Equinox, exactly. The main requirement of the Student grade is that I acquire the books and familiarize myself with their content. When I apply for the exam, it's open book and I have as much time as I need to complete it. But I'd like to at least be thorough. emoticon

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
10/13/17 11:22 AM as a reply to Andrew B..
Vivekananda was an interesting figure. Seems like his impact on hiw westerners view hinduism and eastern philosophy in general has been ENORMOUS. I know some theravadin teachers like Thanissaro think he took his "perennial philosophy" too far. I didn't know he influenced Crowley that directly, but it explains a lot emoticon

Good luck with you studies! Did I link to the articles on the alchemical process of initiation in western esotericism by Tommy Westlund? I think they could be of interest to you, as a perspective on what might come if you go all in with this path.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
10/14/17 10:27 AM as a reply to Pål R.
I have to admit that I don't know all that much about Vivekananda himself, but I've got a mind to delve in and learn more now. It doesn't particularly surprise me that Thannisaro and other Theravadin teachers would take some issue with his perrennial philosophy.

I don't believe you did post that link. Or if you did, I don't remember. In any case, it sounds like something I'd be interested in checking out.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
10/16/17 10:07 AM as a reply to Andrew B..
http://alkemiskaakademin.se/Initiation%20and%20death.pdf

http://alkemiskaakademin.se/Initiation%20alchemy%20and%20life.pdf

here you go!

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
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10/16/17 10:51 PM as a reply to Andrew B..
How do i contact them? ? what is their page? 

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
10/17/17 12:34 AM as a reply to Pål R.
Looks interesting, thank you!

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
10/17/17 12:41 AM as a reply to Jamess.
http://onestarinsight.org/

This is the one I contacted. It's David Shoemaker's lineage. There seems to be at least three lineages of the A.'.A.'. generally recognized as being genuine. The other two being:


http://www.outercol.org/

The Gunther lineage, which is officially connected with the O.T.O., and


http://www.astrumargenteum.org/en/home/

The Eshelman lineage.

I contacted the first one because I felt like I vibed most with the people coming out of it. (David Shoemaker's a Jungian psychologist and seems to have a pretty even head on his shoulders.) As it always goes with spiritual lineages, there's a lot of sectarian fighting, but the more reasonable voices out there seem to concede that the issue of which lineage is "most genuine" isn't really an important distinction as long as they're genuinely doing the Work.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
11/3/17 4:50 PM as a reply to Andrew B..
A little update, just to keep this log going.

I'm working on getting myself back to being more consistent with my meditation again, though at this point meditation in itself is not the central focus of my praxis. (It is, however, still vitally important!) For my meditation practice I have been focusing mainly on Asana, that is posture, with a little bit of secondary attention given to the breath when everything else seems to be adequately stilled. I really took to Vivekananda's writings on yoga, and it's been a large influence on my approach to practice at this moment. Another, somewhat secondary influence, has been Ajahn Brahm, who encourages letting the mind settle and quiet before beginning to watch the breath.

I've found that these approaches to practice have been an especially good fit for me in a number of ways. They are grounding, for one. The focus on body and posture and simply being, almost (or perhaps exactly) a sort of Shikantaza approach to meditation, really seems to be beneficial to me on both the spiritual and mudane level, as I tend to be a really cerebral sort and often somewhat disconnected or even perturbed by my own physicality at times. I'm working on making friends with my own body again, rather than neurotically swinging back and forth between overly averse and overly attached.

For my reading, I finished Raja Yoga and loved it. I read the Hathayoga Pradipika and have one last chapter to go in The Shiva Samhita. (The reading list only requires one of the last two items but I chose to acquire and read them both, because why the heck not?) These last two have both been interesting and insightful texts, though some of the claims therein are pretty outrageous, and I'm starting to think that a lot of the really jumped-up claims seem to be the result of a tendency toward hyperbole that may just be typical of a lot of ancient and medieval Indian spiritual texts (or even just spiritual and religious texts in general). Like it seems that according to the authors of these texts, every individual Asana, Mudra, etc. detailed is credited as being "the best one," that will certainly lead to liberation in X amount of time.

I'm learning to take claims in general with a grain of salt. I'm finding that my spiritual attitude of late has been one of both skepticism and gracious openness in equal measure, with no sense of conflict between these two. Rather, they seem to compliment each other.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
Answer
11/6/17 1:41 PM as a reply to Andrew B..
I feel that contemplative practice and Magick are extremely complementary, and find myself actively working towards balancing and integrating those approaches lately. Over the past year I've gone pretty deeply down the thelemic rabbit hole, with parallel excursions into Judaic kabbala, hermeticism and chaos magic- both in terms of intellectual study and exploring forms of ritual and contemplative practice from these traditions. 

Have you been incorporating ritual work into your regular practice? If so, which ones (you mentioned Resh above - still doing that? LRP? LRH?) 

If so, have you noticed anything about how ritual work and meditation practice can affect each other? I notice that doing some ritual work immediately prior to meditating is quite helpful, for instance. 

Are you focusing only on Thelema, or are you exploring other systems and approaches to Western Magic?

I liked the Living Thelema podcast for getting started in that system (and his book), and there's lots of great practical stuff in Magick in Theory and Practice as well as in Gems of the Equinox. I've also really enjoyed Gordon White's work, both his books and blog and his excellent podcast, Rune Soup, which I strongly recommend.

If you like movies, A Dark Song is a really well done indie horror /suspense film that is a fictional account of the Abramelin ritual. Really well done emoticon Hardcore. 

Anyhow, I look forward to hearing more about your journey! 
Jake

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
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11/6/17 2:48 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
They are definitely complementary! As you say, a bit of ritual work prior to meditation is certainly very helpful. Even if it's largely a psychological thing.

I took a bit of a break from active ritual work for a little while and have mostly been focusing on my studies. Recently I've been integrating more of a Raja Yoga style meditation practice and have started doing Resh again. I like Resh because it's a simple and structured little ritual with a lot of subtle moving parts, including a significant devotional element. It's an extremely useful tool for integrating one's spiritual practice into the business of life in the world.

My primary focus right now is Thelema, with a strong yogic influence, as per above. With a small pinch of Buddhist, Christian mystical, and chaos magical influence thrown into the mix. I've been finding actually, as I go through all these books and consider my own life and practice, that I'm growing less particularly attached to any one particular system. There are things about all of them that make a good bit of sense to me and seem useful, and then there are things about all of them which absolutely don't, and I'm at a place right now where I feel very comfortable taking what is useful to me at the moment and not worrying too much about what isn't. So I haven't been getting too caught up lately in the idea of labels and systems.

I love Rune Soup! And while I don't agree with everything that Gordon White says and thinks, I do find a lot of his perspectives on animism and chaos magic refreshing and engaging and it really gets me thinking about things in ways I had not thought about them before, and I think that sort of thing is really invaluable to practice, as it keeps things from getting really stale and dogmatic, and has even had me questioning some of my own perspectives on and approaches to Thelema.

I saw A Dark Song and I really enjoyed it, both as a budding occultist and an avid fan of well-made indie horror movies. From what I understand, it's not quite an accurate portrayal of the actual Abra-Melin operation (there certainly isn't any Tibetan spellwork and writing in the original text!), but as far as depictions of occult rituals in horror movies go, this was one of the best. And that ending was absolutely breathtaking!

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
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11/7/17 1:03 PM as a reply to Andrew B..
Haha, yeah I admit I cringed when the Eastern elemental stuff came up ;)

Really liked how the film captured, in dramatic form, some of the ups, downs and twists of the spiritual path in general with a western esoteric aesthetic. And that epic ending! 

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
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3/27/18 6:44 PM as a reply to Andrew B..
Hey, how long as it been since I last posted an update? Well, here's a new one!

Apologies for the lack. Things just haven't been all that eventful. But here's something new!

Just a few days ago, I finally finished reading through the A.'.A.'. Student Curriculum. I contacted the Order, requested an exam, and recieved it.

And then I looked at it.

To give you an idea of what the exam actually looks like, check out this link: http://www.astrumargenteum.org/en/a%E2%88%B4a%E2%88%B4/notes-on-the-original-student-exam/

The one I received follows the format exactly of the first three examples, plus a thirteenth item asking for a personal autobiography. Thankfully, the test is open book, and there is no time limit. I could literally take the length of my whole life on this if I wanted/needed.

And yet, even then, I might end up splitting my skull open over this thing. I can feel it happening already.

In other news, over the past couple months I've really gotten myself back into a solid meditation practice. I only missed two sessions last month, and I think one this month. Also I've been regulating my sleep habits more, and have gotten myself waking up at roughly the same time every day, which has done serious wonders for my overall mood and energy.

I'm probably going to keep just focusing on meditation for a while, over the course of figuring out this whole exam thing.

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
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4/2/18 1:51 AM as a reply to Andrew B..
Is it very important for you too join the A.’.A.’. in particular or could other orders be interesting? There are a few other very solid ways into the western mystery tradition, depending on where you live or where you could travel. 

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
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4/5/18 3:21 AM as a reply to Pål R.
Hi Pal, can you share this ways, I would be interested to know emoticon !

RE: Andrew's A.'. A.'. Adventure
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4/6/18 11:19 PM as a reply to Jordi.
Please PM me thenemoticon