Ordo Rosa Solis

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

 

  1. What are the Ogdoadic Mysteries?

In simple terms, the Ogdoadic Mysteries are a particular expression of Hermeticism.

 

Specifically, the word “Ogdoad” means the number “8” in Ancient Greek. All fully-functioning magical systems have key numerical correspondences that embody the power and emphasis of the particular system. For example, Ancient Greek magic largely focuses on the number 12, with the 12 Olympian Deities being the central pantheon. There is a lesser focus on the number 7, representing the 7 visible planets in the heavens (visible with the naked eye, that is). What is different about the Ogdoadic Tradition is that its numerical affiliation is outrightly declared in its very name, while other traditions may require careful study to determine their numerical foundation.

 

So, we have determined that in the Ogdoadic Mysteries we place emphasis on the number 8. This of course begs the question as to what 8 might signify. It can encompass many things, but one of the strongest correspondences is to the concept of Regeneration. Think of a musical scale. It has 8 notes, but the last note, the eighth, is an octave of the first. It is the same note, yet different. From there the scale begins again. It is a return to where we began, and yet with a different and higher resonance.

 

Thus do we pursue our spiritual quest, to attain that higher state of Regeneration which is true to our deepest and innermost self, where both high and low resonate together in perfect tune.

 

There are traces of those who venerated the number 8 throughout history, although as far as we are aware, the term “Ogdoadic Mysteries” was not coined until the 20th Century by the writers Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips. They were the first people to openly publish the works of the Aurum Solis. Amongst their writings is a beautiful description of the history of the Ogdoadic Mysteries, which is published on the website of our parent Order, the Astrum Sophia. Click here to visit the site and read the lineage.

 

Qabalists will see Hod, the 8th Sephiroth, known as Splendour or Glory, as a key representation of the Regenerative Mysteries of 8. Hod also governs many aspects of our magical work and is strongly associated with Thoth and Hermes.

 

Christians have a similar concept of Regeneration associated with the number 8, because 8 is the number associated with baptism, which was historically experienced as a spiritual renewal. This concept was defined as the “octava dies” or the mythical “Eighth Day” of their spirituality. On one level this can be seen as the time of the Risen and Regenerated Christos, a time beyond the mundane human time measured in units of seven days. The magical sacrament of Baptism celebrated by Christians symbolised seekers passing from “Death in Sin” to the “New Life of Christ,” in an “Eighth Day” without end or beginning, a state outside usual time and space.

 

In the Pythagorean world view, the number 8 represented completed mathematical perfection.

 

Further examples of the prominence of the number 8 can be found in Norman R Kraft’s book, “Ogdoadic Magick” (Appendix A – The Ogdoadic Tradition: Threads from a Grand Tapestry, page 225 onwards). 

 

  1. Is there a difference between the Ogdoadic Mysteries as practised by the Ordo Rosa Solis and the workings of other groups such as the Golden Dawn or the Society of the Inner Light?

There are some similarities, as well as some key differences.

 

Each of these groups are Mystery Schools or initiatory groups drawing upon magical teachings that stretch back to Egypt. An initiatory group can be seen as an organisation that is able to lead and support an individual seeker through a system of experiences and practices which, if worked through correctly, can make that individual a fuller person.

 

Each organisation tends to have a form of “outer court” and “inner court,”  and each celebrate both the Lesser Mysteries and Greater Mysteries. To borrow a quote from Masonry, all could loosely agree that the goal of the Lesser Mysteries is the “making smooth the rough-hewn ashlar.” Each has a series of degrees (known as “Halls” in the Ogdoadic Tradition) encompassing certain teachings, after the completion of which you may be invited to receive initiation into a “higher” degree(s).

 

But the flavour and emphasis of each group are quite different. The best way to experience the differences is to practice key exercises from each system. Some specific differences are:

  • The Ogdoadic Mysteries draw their lineage predominantly from Hermetic, neo-Platonic and Renaissance sources, while the Golden Dawn, Society of the Inner Light and related groups draw more extensively upon Rosicrucian influences.
  • Inner Contacts: Ordo Rosa Solis is a fully-contacted esoteric Order, as is the Society of the Inner Light. Historically, Golden Dawn lodges are not contacted, although there were and are some exceptions.
  • The Golden Dawn is traditionally very lodge-based, as is the Inner Light. While there are group meetings and group workings performed at Houses of the Order, the bulk of the work is completed by the solo practitioner.

There are of course further differences, but they are more subjective. Perhaps the one difference we might venture to discuss pertains to the pantheons utilised. The Golden Dawn did a magnificent job of cataloguing and synthesising the diverse magical traditions found in the West. Their works are a rich, multi-coloured tapestry that can take you from Samothracian mysteries in one rite to Chaldean Oracles in the next. It is a fantastic exploration of the many-hued magical systems which have existed. Ordo Rosa Solis, in contrast to this rich tapestry, is more of a fine-spun silk. There is a strong internal coherence to the system, and all of the fundamental rites and practices operate around a set group of deities and concepts. This can lead to building a very profound relationship with the magical beings and ideas because all the exercises have a cohesiveness that is not found in many other systems.

 

Again, this is very subjective, and we do not say it to value one system over the other. It is simply to show that they each have a very different flavour, and in the end, the seeker must decide which flavour best suits his or her disposition.

 

  1. What is the difference between the Aurum Solis, Astrum Sophia and Ordo Rosa Solis?

The Aurum Solis was a magical order which was established in 1897 in England. It has trained many serious magicians since its inception. In the 1970’s and 80’s, the Order moved its Grand Commandery, establishing the House of the Winged Serpent, in Minneapolis, in the United States, when Grand Master Melita Denning and her husband Osborne Phillips relocated there (these were the pen names for Vivian Godfrey and "Leon Barczynski").

 

During their extended Minneapolis sojourn, Vivian and Leon continued to work the Aurum Solis tradition, and during this time they initiated and worked closely with William Stoltz. William eventually rose to be Administrator General of the Aurum Solis and member of the College of Thrones together with Vivian and Leon. When Vivian and Leon moved back to the UK, William went on to study in another organisations, including the Golden Dawn. A few years after Vivian’s passing, Leon (who succeeded Vivian as Grand Master) approved William to re-constitute the House of the Winged Serpent in Minneapolis, later granting Commandery status, and carry on the work of the Aurum Solis there.

 

Leon later granted William a full “charter of spiritual succession,” which allowed William to establish a new magical order, based upon the workings and magical transmissions he received through the Aurum Solis, while allowing for new developments.  Thus was the Astrum Sophia born, with William Stoltz as Grand Master. Having retained its North American, and some European membership, the order established itself as a contacted initiatory Order dedicated to continuing and fostering the Ogdoadic Tradition of the Western Mysteries, and thus providing a sane vehicle for the advancement of its members in an ambience of living alchemy. Its lineage can be viewed here.

 

The Chiefs of Ordo Rosa Solis began their Ogdoadic journey with initiation into the Astrum Sophia, and after several years they were granted a Commandery in the UK. One of the Chiefs became the Adminstrator General of the Astrum Sophia and member of the College of Thrones. In 2013, William Stoltz granted full charters for them to establish and administer an independent working order of the Ogdoadic Mysteries. The new Order takes a traditional approach to the Ogdoadic Mysteries, one that is completly congruent with the ambience and teachings found in the Magical Philosophy series; which were practiced by the Aurum Solis until its current head's seismic change of direction. While Ordo Rosa Solis describes itself as traditional, it also welcomes innovation and re-interpretation. Nothing stands still! In the tradition of the Green Flame, the Order also offers companions the opportunity to explore the Mysteries of Britain through the workings and curriculum of the Celtic Guild. The Chiefs of the new Order maintain good fraternal relations with Astrum Sophia. 

 

Neither Ordo Astrum Sophiae nor Ordo Rosa Solis have any connection with the modern day Aurum Solis, which has significantly changed its interpretations, practices and adopted a commercial approach to the Ogdoadic Mysteries.

 

  1. What is the difference between the House of Thoth and Ordo Rosa Solis?

Ordo Rosa Solis is the name of the magical Order to which we belong. Within the Order there are several structures to oversee the work of the Order and provide personal contact with the members. The term "House" refers specifically to the initiatory structure and function of an Ordo Rosa Solis group. When you apply to Ordo Rosa Solis for membership, you will always be directed to a House, which is the body which confers initiation, provides mentorship, etc.

 

The House of Thoth is therefore the body that people in the UK and Ireland will normally work with when they pursue study within Ordo Rosa Solis.

 

  1. Who are the Chiefs of the House of The Thoth?

The House of Thoth is run by a couple living in the Malvern Hills. Between them, they have over 50 years’ experience in the Western Mysteries.

 

The Magus trained in The London Group (with the author Charles Fielding who wrote The Practical Qabalah and The Story of Dion Fortune) for nearly 20 years. He held the office of Vice Warden in The London Group. He was initially attracted to the Ogdoadic system in the mid-1980's when he led the North Kent / Charlton House Green Circle group through Denning and Phillip’s “Magickal States of Consciousness” pathworkings.  He remains fascinated with the richness and efficacy of the Ogdoadic system. Prior to the creation of Ordo Rosa Solis in 2013, he was the Master of Ordo Astrum Sophiae's Commandery of Albion.

 

The Administrator General began her exploration of the Western Mysteries in Holland where she founded a magical group under the tutelage of author and magician Marian Green. Later she moved to the UK and was initiated into the Temple of Janus (ToJ), working closely with Tony Willis. She also draws great inspiration from Dion Fortune, especially in her work described in The Magical Battle of Britain. She was attracted to the Ogdoadic Tradition by the potency of the system and the simple fact that it works. Prior to the creation of Ordo Rosa Solis in 2013, she was the Administrator General of Ordo Astrum Sophiae and member of the College of Thrones. 

  

  1. What is the best way to get a quick taste of the practical side of the Ogdoadic Mysteries?

There are a number of different things you can do. For initial familiarity, you can try working through some of the basic practices publicised in Mysteria Magica (Denning and Phillips). Suggested examples include:

  • The Calyx
  • The Setting of the Wards of Power
  • The Clavis Rei Primae

 You can also find these exercises on the web here.

 

Most of these exercises require at least an elemental level of proficiency in basic magical techniques. Those experienced with the Golden Dawn-based system will note some similarity, but will probably be quite surprised at the differences too, particularly the added importance of breath and movement.

 

For those with no experience, the programme laid out in Norman Kraft’s Ogdoadic Magick will give beginners a good exposure to the basics.

 

Those who have tasted the system and like it may wish to consider applying for Probationer status with Ordo Rosa Solis.

 

  1. Why join a magical Order?

Because many works of the Ogdoadic Tradition are now openly available, it is possible for the solo practitioner to make great strides along the Path. Furthermore, there are people whose dispositions are best-suited to solo work. It is a valid means of attainment.

 

However, in his book, School of the Soul, Halevi gives some compelling reasons for joining a functioning Magical Order or Mystery School: “In spiritual work an individual can only go so far. Beyond a certain point the Path becomes obscure because it enters the unknown. Here help is required. However, what is offered by circumstance is sometimes not what is needed, and the inexperienced seeker cannot always tell the good from the bad. What can be said is that supportive companions are as vital as useful maps, well-tried techniques and a trustworthy guide, for the Way is beset with many trials to test and prevent the unready from moving out of their depth. A [Mystery] School is a convoy designed to take groups safely across this difficult country between the natural world and the Kingdom of the Spirit. Besides being a mode of training and transport, a school is a method by which people can form, under the direction of a tutor who is monitored by a master, a composite vessel that can encompass more than the sum of their knowledge or experience.” (Halevi, Z’ev ben Shimon. School of the Soul: Its Path and Pitfalls. Bath: Gateway Books, 1993)

 

  1. What does becoming a Probationer of Ordo Rosa Solis mean? What is expected of me? How long does it take?

Whenever one is interested in a magical group, it is important to first try out the work. Initiation can only be conferred after both sides have had a chance to see if they “fit” with each other. Every magical group has its own version of a probation period, which may be more or less strenuous depending upon the nature of the group.

 

Within Ordo Rosa Solis, you begin the process of exploration by requesting to become a Probationer. There is no formal commitment to the group or the work of the Ogdoadic Mysteries at that point; it is a signal that you wish to learn more about them in order to see if they are appropriate for you. It is also a chance for us to get to know you and see if we feel we can work with you.

 

After some initial correspondence with us about your own ideas and intentions, you may be invited to become a Probationer. You will be given a manual with a series of exercises to work on. The work is correspondence-based and is designed for a solo practitioner. You can take these at your own pace. We ask for brief monthly reports regarding your progress. A mentor will be available for you to ask questions of. You may be invited to join a group meeting at the House of Thoth, or one of the Order's Citadels, depending upon the activities under way at the time.

 

You can take as long as you want with the Probationer’s work, but a minimum of 2-3 months is required. It is usually clear after that period of time whether you wish to carry on. If you find that the work is not to your liking, you are free to continue your quest somewhere else with our very best wishes. On the other hand, if you enjoy the work and find you are getting a lot of out of it, you can request to continue your training. Your mentor and officers of the Order will review the request and may consider you for initiation into the First Hall.

 

  1. What should I expect from Ordo Rosa Solis?

We believe you will find an Order committed to the ideal of the magical family and an unwavering devotion to raise its initiates to true Adepthood within the regenerative mysteries of the Ogdoadic Tradition.  Only you can be expected to do the work of the Mysteries, but you will have companionship and mentorship on the way.

 

  1. How much money does it cost to become a Probationer of Ordo Rosa Solis?

No money changes hands in order to become a Probationer. We can best quote from the Constitution of Ordo Rosa Solis itself, which states quite clearly: “No companion shall make any profit by virtue of being a member or leader of Ordo Rosa Solis. The Order does not charge dues or fees for membership… Since initiations and advancements are spiritual gifts of the Order, no fees shall be charged for performing these rites.” 

 

In today's world few people are aware that the Mysteries can neither be bought nor sold. Those who think they can buy or sell the Mysteries are charlatan who are in for a surprise.

 

  1. How much does it cost to be initiated into Ordo Rosa Solis?

As stated above in question 10, there is no charge for the initiation itself. However, you will need to pay your own travel costs to the House of Thoth in the Malvern Hills to receive initiation.  We also ask for a small contribution to cover costs of food and, where appropriate, overnight accommodation.

 

  1. Can I talk to anyone in person or on the phone before making a decision?

 Yes. Please contact us first via the contact form and let us know your intentions.

 

  1. Can I be initiated into the inner group of Ordo Rosa Solis?

If you follow the structure of Ordo Rosa Solis, beginning with the Probationer period and then progressing through the degree structure with all the associated work, you will reach the inner group after your Third Hall initiation. But be aware there is no “fast track.” No matter what degree you have attained in another order, you will start at the beginning with Ordo Rosa Solis. While you may be well-versed in magic, you must first immerse yourself in our tradition, which is quite different to others, before you can proceed.

 

  1. What happens if I find it is not for me?

You are free to carry on your quest elsewhere with our blessing.

 

  1. Can you recommend any good books to get me started?

It is a curious situation that while many of the works of the Ogdoadic Tradition have been published, it is nevertheless still not terribly accessible to a new seeker. The definitive books are a five-volume series known as “The Magical Philosophy” by Denning and Philips. The series has been published in various forms, but some are out of print. However, as of this writing, it is still relatively easy to find Foundations of High Magick at Amazon (reprinted by Castle books for the original publisher Llewellyn). This book incorporates the first 2 volumes of “The Magical Philosophy” (also known as “TMP”) and is probably the best place to begin. It offers some excellent background and philosophy and is highly recommended.

 

Many new seekers are also drawn to Norman Kraft’s Ogdoadic Magick (Weiser Books). It is a basic and solid introduction to the practices of a probationer into the Ogdoadic Mysteries. This book is particularly suited to people who have little magical experience, as it walks them through many foundation concepts.

 

While not part of the TMP series, Planetary Magic is an excellent book by Denning and Phillips which is a kind of initiation into the planetary energies. Dipping into this book will give you a real flavour for the work of the Ogdoadic Mysteries and many of the series of rites the inner group work.

 

Further reading can be found in the remaining issues of “The Magical Philosophy”. The Sword and the Serpent, encompasses volumes 3 and 4. This book and specifically addresses the Qabalah and esoteric psychology.

 

Mysteria Magica is book 5 of TMP. Here you will find a treasure trove of the most important rites and workings. If you want to start practicing the exercises discussed in question 5, you will find them here. But a word to the wise: there is very little information as to how to employ these rites. If you are wanting to explore the Ogdoadic Tradition, you may find yourself not knowing where to begin.

 

Books with a specific Qabalistic perspective:

  • Entrance to the Magical Qabalah – Denning and Phillips (Thoth Publications). This book is much shorter and succinct than the Sword and the Serpent, and thus is probably more accessible for new seekers.
  • Magical States of Consciousness – Denning and Phillips (Llewellyn). A wonderful book of pathworkings associated with the Qabalah. Not necessarily a great place for beginners, but it will give you a very good feel for some of the Ogdoadic work we pursue.
  • The Practical Qabalah – Charles Fielding (Weiser). One of the best basic Qabalah books ever written, which also covers much of the Jungian psychology we work with in the Order.
  • The Greek Qabalah – Kieren Barry (Weiser). An eye-opener study of the Greek links within the Qabalah. This is suited to people well-versed with the Qabalah who are interested in exploring the Greek side of things. As our Mysteries have a strong Greek flavour, this is all the more relevant.

Other books that give a glimpse of some of the philosophy:

  • Towards Democracy – Edward Carpenter. This book is a great allegory for alchemy. We hope to make this available here on the website soon, but click here for some extracts.
  • Corpus Hermeticum – translated by GRS Mead and available on the Astrum Sophia website.
  • Light in Extension - David Godwin (Llewellyn) gives great insight into Greek magic, which is conducive to Ogdoadic work.

It is easy to get swamped in a reading spree when you first get started. This can cause mental indigestion. Magic, in the end, is a practical art. It is useful to remember that discrimination is one of the first and best learned skills on the Path. To paraphrase Heracletus, accumulation of knowledge is not the same as accumulation of wisdom!  

 

  1. Are there any good web resources for the Ogdoadic Mysteries?

We plan to steadily build this site as a web resource and welcome input from the larger Ogdoadic community. The website of our parent order is a good resource with material and links. Go to Ordo Astrum Sophiae.

 

There is also a Yahoo! Group called Ogdoadic Magick which is dedicated to the study of the Ogdoadic Mysteries. Its level of activity rises and falls with time, but a trawl through the archives can find answers to many of your questions.

 

  1. How do I know it is not all rubbish?

Whenever you are contacting a new esoteric group, you must always use your own intuition and common sense. Proceed with caution. Do the promises sound too good to be true? Does anything you are asked to do feel wrong or uncomfortable? Do you feel something is wanted from you that you feel is wrong?  Read the group’s website and form an initial opinion. Do they seem knowledgeable, without trying to make themselves into infallible demi-gods? 

 

If you have done the above with our Order and have a positive initial impression, then do the exercises recommended in question 5. If the exercise has left you feeling good, then you may consider contacting us and judging your initial contact. Does what we say seem reasonable? If not, then please take our blessings for the fulfilment of your quest elsewhere.

 

In the end, the “proof of the pudding is in the eating” and you will never know for sure until you take some initial steps. There is always some strangeness to new groups and you will have to get used to that. But if you ever feel distrustful, then listen to your intuition.  Clearly, we do not think that what we are doing is rubbish. But our particular approach to the Mysteries may or may not suit your disposition, and you will have to trust your own common sense as to whether you want to proceed.

 

  1. I’m already a member of another esoteric group, can I still join?

Membership of the Order does not formally preclude membership of other legal organisations. However, individuals are asked to exercise common sense and are cautioned against spreading their focus too thinly. Few of us have the ability and skill to climb up two different ladders at the same time…. particularly when the ladders are in different rooms!

 

  1. What is the Ordo Rosa Solis view on homosexuality? Transgender? Race?

Ordo Rosa Solis abhors prejudice of any kind and does not discriminate on basis of sexual, racial or gender orientation.

 

  1. Will I have to participate in group workings or can I work by myself?

Group workings may be available to those who choose to participate, but they are never a requirement. Aside from initiations, the work of the Order can satisfactorily be carried out on a solo basis supported by virtual contact with other Companions.