The Death of a Friend
[Originally published on February 27, 2009. Published here for some perspective as we near ten years on.]
I received and email recently from a friend telling me of the recent death of a mutual associate. It was not the death of a person, but that of an ideal, of a focal point for many of us, for our spiritual unfoldment. The death was that of the local affiliated body of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC in Providence, Rhode Island. While it has been a decade or more since I have anything officially to do with AMORC, and a little less than that since my last visit to those parts of the world as a guest speaker for a regional convention, the loss is no less painful.
You see, despite the enjoyment of many to turn AMORC into their favorite whipping post, reality is, the New Age movement, and the revival of interest in what we call ‘traditional esotericism’ – making such things as the Holy Blood, Holy Grail; The DaVinci Code, The Last Templar, and even the revival of a host of Martinist, Rosicrucian, Templar and quasi-Masonic bodies possible during the 1990s was in fact attributable to AMORC. Had AMORC not popularized the notion of rosicrucianism, self-initiation, and established a worldwide network to support it, I have little doubt that Dan Brown’s purse would have been much smaller. Being a household name, or at least concept, helps not just oneself, but anything remotely related. Commercial enterprises know that well. That is why competing chains always build across or near one another.
So, with the death of this small group, a coterie of people who dedicated themselves to helping each other, seeking continued self improvement, and service to a higher ideal – that of spiritual Illumination as the medicine to heal human suffering – is gone. Now for those who were not associated with the group or even the larger organization it may mean very little, but therein lay the greater part of my own sadness.
The Providence group was itself established in the early 1990s, a product of the members of a previous body – Roger Williams Chapter, who had been in existence unto that time for nearly half a century, possibly longer. As such, there was a sense of continuity being carried forward, and not simply the notion of being completely new. Now it is important to look at the time frames being talked about here. One of the biggest jokes made about contemporary esoteric circles, particularly those focused on ritual, initiations, and magical practices, is that getting a dozen people committed to the lodge, circle, or coven has been considered a miraculous event. To have a group of people dedicated to the activity, paying monthly dues to maintain the temple and equipment in a neutral space, rather than running it out of a member’s home, and to do it for decades, is a sign of commitment that is – unfortunately – rarely seen.
Yet, there was a time, a generation ago, when this was commonplace for a large group of people on the Path. They understood the meaning of group work, a fraternalistic community setting, as well as the important actions of sacrifice and service.
You see the thing about sacrifice and service, is that they are words that require personal action. “Faith and Hope” sound nice, but nothing else is required from them except to sit back, have just that faith and hope. If the United States as a nation, and the rest of the world that is currently suffering under the economic collapse that we are experiencing, is going to survive as an organized entity – and yes, I mean survive as an entity – without recourse to war or violence as a means of triggering employment and economic activity, then the traditional values of the generations that made our current level of social, political, and personal development possible need to be rediscovered. These values are timeless, and the only proven path to wellness and social development that can be pointed to by those that embrace the foundational values of numerous esoteric paths, as well as being devoid of either a secular or sectarian requirement.
Wealth Rarely Passes Three Generations
There is a Chinese saying, that has been backed up by some modern studies, that “Wealth rarely passes three generations.” What this means is that the values of the generation that made the wealth and passed it on to its children will weaken in the second generation and disappear by the third, taking the wealth they (and by this it is mean the values) created with it. Just as we have seen the foundational values of the wealth creating generation disappear along with the wealth, this squandering being done in most part by their children and grandchildren – to be clear on this – the Children of the Age of Aquarius and their children, and in some instances their children as well – we have seen the basic ability to construct and maintain a value based wealth creating entity vaporize as well. The word for over forty years has been entitlement, rather than obligation or duty. Two generations of Americans, and Europeans in a different way as well, have been only concerned with what they perceive themselves to be entitled too, rather than what their duty is.
We can also see this same loss of wealth in the esoteric domain.
To students of esotericism it is no surprise that almost all of the material being made available today is in part or whole a rewording or direct quoting of a body of texts and practices that were formulated, codified, and packaged during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. The “Golden Age of Modern Occultism” if you will, being from roughly 1930 until he mid-1950s, about 25 to 30 years, or one complete Saturn cycle.
During this time, nearly all of the lodges, temples, teachings, books, and foundational sources that are currently in use came into being or were popularized. This covers all branches and groupings from alchemy to qabalah, ritual magic and mysticism, even the roots of the Eastern philosophical exploration that would take place in the Sixties, and the Neo-Pagan revival of the same period into the Eighties and early Nineties.
While we have seen a great deal of esoteric consumption going on during the last forty years, we have in essence, seen very little real esoteric wealth creation – at least as far as Western Esotericism goes – the same cannot be said for many Eastern movements as they are still riding the upper crest of the wave, as well as have more traditional values on this matter as a whole.
If Western esotericism, and Western culture as a whole is to survive as a series of entities that respect individual liberty, freedom and spiritual expression, then it is critical that we create the causes and conditions – movements and supporting infrastructure – that will make that possible. There is no time to waste. The clock is ticking.