Leo Lyon Zagami, the author of a multi-volume set on magical and occult conspiracies focussing around the Roman Catholic Church and various secret and semi-secret societies, contacted me by email around mid November 2017. He was polite, clear, and asked if I would reply to a few questions for an upcoming book. I was unfamiliar with his work, but make it a habit to answer questions if and when I can, and given that his request was reasonable I felt confident in agreeing.
About two weeks after I sent my replies, which are found below, I received a copy of his book in the mail. There, in the back, were the same questions he asked, and answers I gave. It was not clear to me then or now how these could be used to support his overall thesis, if anything they are neutral at best, but there they were. It was around this time that Mr. Zagami also appeared on a major television show specializing in conspiracy theories, and in closing mentioned me twice in some manner, as if to support his case.
It was only a few days later that I was made aware of my being the focal point of an essay appearing on the website, ”Watchers of the Dawn – Keeping an Eye on the Occult World” wherein I was quoted. Now, it is important to note that I was neither misquoted by either Zagami or the authors of Watchers of the Dawn, but, there was no reason to include me in the essay. I said nothing that supported Zagami, and by including me, the editors of Watchers were demonstrating their lack of journalistic ethics by splashing me with the same tar they were throwing at Zagami They neither contacted me prior to the post nor after. I was allowed however, to post two or three replies to the website, which is currently listed as ”suspended”. As a result, there are statements going around associating me with Zagami and his work, as well as referencing an article I am mentioned in, in an effort to cast me in a negative light, that is unavailable for checking. So, I am taking this opportunity to post here the exact questions and answers that appeared in Zagami’s book and leave it to you to decide what all the so-called conspiratorial fuse is about.
QUESTIONS for author and Freemason Mark Stavish from Wyoming Lodge No. 468, Director of the Institute for Hermetic Studies, who has published world wide, several books related to Freemasonry, and is often used as an expert consultant for programs on Freemasonry for the History Channel and Animal Planet.
1. Who is Mark Stavish and what does the Institute for Hermetic Studies represent in today’s Masonic and esoteric world?
REPLY: I am a practitioner and author of esotericism with about forty years experience. I started the Institute for Hermetic Studies in 1998 as a local group with an operating temple for the instruction in various esoteric practices. Over the years we have published nearly thirty books, many of which are available in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Estonian, and Polish.
We are unaffiliated with any other organizations and operate with the philosophy that esotericism needs to be dis-occulted while still working within the framework that ethics are important. However, secrecy as it is generally known is not needed and is even dangerous. True occult or esoteric knowledge is as His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche said about Vajrayana, ’self-secret’. That is, one must actually do the work to understand it, so teaching opening cannot violate anything sacred. Too often secrecy is a means of covering the ignorance of would-be teachers.
We are not an initiatic organization and offer no initiations, as such, we are also not affiliated with any Masonic body. We do encourage what in the United States of America is refered to as the Traditional Observance Movement, as well as the formation of ”philosophical lodges”, but this is in line with our general philosophy. However, this does not confer any Masonic affiliation for the Institute for Hermetic Studies.
2. What do you believe is the reason for the present decline of the Western Initiatic System and the rise of Satanism in our society?
REPLY: There are several factors at work. First there is the distinction between initiatic systems which are primarily fraternal in nature such as Freemasonry or even the OTO, and those which are clearly esoteric or occult in nature, wherein, ritual initiation is designed to have an effect on the candidates psychic structures. The rituals of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, various gnostic groups, and of course, the now well know empowerments of Tibetan Buddhism – vajrayana or tantra – are designed to do.
Historically esotericism in the West has always operated on the fringes. It had some bried shining moments in the sun during the Renaissance, but that ended. Movements and groups were established, but membership was difficult, teachings not always clear. Even groups such as the Pietists who were very esoteric and mystical, but no threat to the establishment powers, were often the subject of extreme persecution which prompted many to come to the North American colonies.
This means that even in family traditions, the ”initiatic chain” was more like a thread and easily broken. So, when we speak of initiation in Western esotericism it is a tremendous challange to find a group that has been operating continuously for twenty years, let alone two-hundred. In practice, this means we are constantly recreating the wheel and the whole vehicle that goes with it!
This means that few people are actually trained in a traditional manner wherein there is a connection to an actual system that has genuine elders. For me, that means three or more generations of practitioners.
This is further compounded by the current ease with which information is obtained. There is little sense of connection or commitment, and what does exist is more that of a fantasy than a real working relationship. Any fifteen year old with a library card can set themselves up as the head of an occult order in a few hours with the internet and no one would be the wiser if they were actully creative and intelligent enough.
It is strange to say but our history of religious intollerance has been both the cause of our lack of esoteric integrity and material success. The growing scientific model and the industrial revolution allowed us to focus more on demonstrable material power than theoretic spiritual power and the subjective baggage it carried.
Fast forward to the present and that translates into wealth, freedoms, and availability of information unimagined just two generations ago. This also means a false sense of individual omnipotence that is really nothing more than an uninteruppted electirical power and food delivery systems.
This material success also has a dark side which discourages people from considering the spiritual or esoteric. This we can call Satanic in the classical sense in that it means, ’opposition’. Satan is less a person or force as it is our own laziness, ease of distraction, and habituated focus on only what we consider important to ourself.
In this way we see many ’good’ people whom we like and trust are actually ’satanic’.
Then there is the notion of organized evil. This falls under the heading of demonic forces, the qlippoth of the qabala, even egregores or collective psychic forces and entities. While it is easy to think of these evil forces only in terms of the obvious – stereotypical bad guys, it is more important to see them for what they are: opportunistic parasites that feed off our anger, fear, and greed.Thus anything, from Political Correctness to hyper-nationalism that can keep people angry, distracted, and afraid is Satanic. The emotions generated is the food for the demon or demons – for we are Legion.
Mass media plays a large roll in this, in particular movies, music, and what is passed off as news reporting. In Europe the entire EU system is a demonic egregore, born out of fear and greed, now destroying its host organisms out of fear and greed as well.
Because of course, the EU, Political Correctness, and Progressive politics are essentially materialistic in nature. I do not say atheistic, although that would do, but there are schools of metaphyscial atheism such as Buddhism. So, materialism is the nature of Communism, and of course, Satanism in its formal and informal definitions.
One could argue that the uptick you are suggesting is also the result of the cycle we are in. Traditionalist philosophers such as Julius Evola, but more practically and importantly Alaine Danielou, believe that we are in the final stages of the Kali Yuga. The same has been said to me by several Tibetan lamas. What makes this most interesting is that the end phase is clearly characterised by a final battle for control against a world domination from Islam. Try saying that in public and see what kind of reaction you get! I say that in all seriousness because we have a saying in the US, ”You know who is in charge by who you cannot criticise.” So, I give that to you as an example, do with it what you will.
3. What is your relationship to New Age belief systems like Thelema and its creator Aleister Crowley?
REPLY: The term New Age is a tricky one as for many it means those psycho-spiritual philosophies and practices that took bloom in the 1970s. Clearly they are related to earlier systems, Theosophy and New Thought being at their core, but as you have intimated, along with it – although tangentially compared to other topics – ritual magic. The source of most of that magic was the teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, primarily as revealed by Israel Regardie, and of course, Aliester Crowley. For this reason, it is nearly impossible for anyone who has any involvement as a practitioner in the New and Emerging Religions that emerge out of the New Age Movement NOT to have some historical relationship with Crowley – even if they are unware of it. As for Crowley in particular, he is not a major focus of my personal work.
4. Do you perceive Thelema’s many links to Modern Satanism as a threat to the image of Regular Freemasonry, as Robert Gilbert stated years ago?
REPLY: I have heard of his comments but not read them, therefore I am unable to offer an informed reply regarding his specific accusations.
5. What is your position, if any, towards groups like the O.T.O., and do you feel you can embrace Regular Freemasonry and Crowleyanity at the same time ?
REPLY: I am not, nor have ever been, a member of the O.T.O. but maintain a pleasent relationship with several of its national officers. That said, I see no reason for there to be a conflict between being a member of both organizations. This does however make a distinction between being a member of the OTO and as you have put it, embracing ”Crowleyanity” or the notion of Aliester Crowley being the final word – or rather the new word, or Word of the Aeon – and therefore imitated by too many of his readers rather than understood and if need be, ignored.
As a broad generalization, I have found that those people who become deeply committed to the OTO are interested in different things than those who become deeply committed to Freemasonry. This however is only my experience, your may vary.
6. Do you believe the roots of Speculative Freemasonry are mainly Christian as believed before 1813?
REPLY: No. The host of non-Christian elements in early Freemasonry are clearly visible to anyone who wants to see them. The notion of Masonry being focused around the Temple of Solomon – itself Jewish – and not the New Jerusalem of Revelations is itself a non-Christian, or pre-Christian foundation. If anything, the symbolism of Freemasonry is Hermetic and Kabbalistic and that is the premise I put forth in my book, Freemasonry – Rituals, Symbols, and History of the Secret Society. Your readers can find it in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Estonian. Now, Freemasonry was and still is composed of members who mainly profess to be Christian. However, any religious litmus test for membership in BLUE LODGE goes against the fundamental Masonic principles. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, which claimes to be among the oldest in the United States and third oldest in the world, was formed in 1731, had members that were Jewish. While some Masonic Rites have a Christian requirement, they are the minority.
7. Can you tell us more about your fascination for the Golden Dawn tradition?
REPLY: I would not use the word fascination to describe my relationship with the Golden Dawn Tradition, but rather, for the longest time, it was as we say, ”the only game in town” if you wanted to learn ritual magic. Nearly everyone has some experience with it, and its methods can be found far and wide, in as diverse and seemingly opposite groups as modern Wicca, neo-paganism, and LaVey’s brand of Satanism (the Church of Satan) with his rewriting of the Enochian Calls. The Golden Dawn methods are very effective for altering consciousness and experiencing certain inner or visionary states. They can be problematic however in that it is, as Pat Zalewski has pointed out, important to have the initiations that go with them. But the initiations are themselves very complex and require a competent team of a half-dozen people or more. Because of the nature of initiation, as we previously discussed, this can act as a bridge, but there is a difference between performing a ceremony and confering an esoteric initiation.
8. What do you think of the various Golden Dawn factions operating in today’s magical world, often in contrast with each other?
REPLY: I have no formal relationship with any of the Golden Dawn organizations in existence although I have a very pleasent and helpful relationship with several of its better known leaders. Currently, the entire Golden Dawn movement is being rocked with a heavy politicising of the movement wherein, it is being stated that only those of a left leaning, progressive, or so-called ’liberal’ political orientation can be a member. Those who are apolitical, libertarian, or conservative are to be denied membership or expunged from the rolls. The same struggle is going in within the OTO. As such, I have no official connection with any Golden Dawn order, lodge, or movement, as I am unconcerned with such things.
9. Charles “Chic” Cicero has created in the last decade, a Rosicrucian Order with ex-members of the S.R.I.A, such as Robert Gilbert, who likes to initiate and work in fancy castles across Europe. Do you want to comment on this new Rosicrucian reality, and what is their true mission?
REPLY: I am not a member of the SRIA, nor have I discussed this organization with anyone, therefore I cannot give an informed comment on its stated purpose or ‘true mission’.
10. As a regular Freemason what is you position in regards to so- called to “Mystic Masonry” or fringe Masonic rites ?
REPLY: Many of the so-called fringe Masonic rites from the lists that I have seen, are not Masonic. For example, I have seen Martinism listed as fringe Masonic. At one time, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was listed as a’dangerous occult organization’ in the Masonic publication, The New Age. So for those of you consumed by conspiracies there is a direct contradition for you. But my point is simple, many organizations laid claim to by the College of Rites are not, nor have ever been Masonic and they enact them. So, it is a bit hypocritical for Regular Masons to get upset by what they call ’fringe’ or ’clandestine’ Masonry unless there is criminal activity, or activities directly damaging to Regular Masonry, going on.
That said, if Regular Masonry in the United States at least, were more philosophical and yes, esoteric, or open to those possibilities in some fashion such as reading groups, etc, then the appeal of fringe Masonry would be dramatically lessened. But even here, let’s be honest, most of the groups we are talking about are barely functioning in many respects. They make promisses on occult secrets and never deliver.
Even those which have access to very good information seem unable to keep from fallin apart from internal schisms every seven to ten years or so. Regular Masonry needs to focus on improving itself and not be concerned about anything else.
11. Stanislao De Guaita, Cabalistic founder of the Cabalistic Order of the Rosicrucian, in his book Temple of Satan, does not limit the dark side of the Illuminati to Adam Weishaupt’s order, but to a vast number of groups involved with the occult, and he was not a conpisracy theorist. What is you view on what I defined in my trilogy as the Illuminati network?
REPLY: Well, here we need to look at the notion of egregores, or collective psychic entities. From this perspective conspiracy is simple as the conspiracy is one of thought or ideals, rather than having everyone sit down at a table and create an action plan. That may happen, but we have no way of proving it. What does matter is the egregore. That we can kill, that we can limit and even eliminate – but on the psychic or astral level where it lives. According to occult theory, if you want to give birth to something or to kill something, it must be done in the invisible first. Another principal is that ’like is known by like’ so in that respect, formal meetings by human beings is not needed when it is really the egregore that is in charge of each of them and whatever groups they are in or represent.
Fortunately, the reverse is true for good, healthy, and productive movements as well. But this in turn gives rise to what is called, ’the war in the heavens’ wherein the various psychic forces battle for control of and on behalf of humanity.
12. Do you think there is a growing magical threat to President Trump?
REPLY: I know there are many people attempting to grab headlines about it, but as to their effectiveness, I have little concern. There are however many forms of magic that have little relationship to people dressing up in robes and playing at having occult power. We need only examine the various forms of psychic research undertaken by the United States in the 1970s until the 1990s and the Soviet Union during from the 1920s until its collapse. I am certain that research is still going on, officially or unofficially through think-tanks and other research arms, and not simply with the superpowers. Occultism has long been an unofficial arm of government, we need only look at John Dee and the circles he ran in for confirmation. Gary Lachman wrote a good book on the topic, Politics and the Occult – The Left, the Right, and the Radically Unseen. There is also some recent material out there about Hillary Clinton and her on-again, off-again relationship with the New Age leaders, and of course, her campaign Chairman and former Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton, John Podesta. It was facinating to listen to many of the would-be leaders of modern occulitsm either be silent or in denial about the occult significance of the so-called ’spirit cooking’ art of Serbian artist Marina Abramovich to which he was invited to attend by his brother, but declined. Then of course we have the recent statement by Washington socialite Sally Quinn that she used magic to murder people all while claiming the moral high ground against Sarah Palin.
So, if we consider the magic to be the power of the mind, or more accurately, the focussed power of the mind to create events, then it is always happening. Like it or not, those who are in power just do it better than most of those outside of it.
I believe that Professor Ioan Couliano, whose murder is still somewhat of a mystery, said it quite well in his book, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, when he pointed out that what was once magic was now the purview of media managers, public relations specialist, psychologists, and by extension, governments and their efforts at social manipulation and control. His work is essential to understanding what is going in the world today.
Trump himself is no stranger to the esoteric philosophy we call ’the power of positive thinking’ , so, I think he can handle himself in this regards.
13. I read with great interest your work on the Chamber of Reflection featured only in certain rites and related jurisdictions, so what is your favorite Masonic Rite and why?
REPLY: I have no favorite rite because they are all so wonderful in their own unique ways. Everyone I know who is a Mason, even if they have not been to a lodge in twenty years, remembers their Third Degree, or ”Degree of a Master Mason”. It is truly one of the finest initiatic experiences one can have. I do wish the Chamber of Reflection was more widely used as it is the first thing a candidate would encounter on their Masonic journey. It is critical for several reasons, but because it asks the most important question as a Mason or non-Mason you will ever be asked, ’Why are you here?” Now, it does not do so in those words, but in its context and content. Why do you want to join this lodge? Remember, until very recently being a mason was a death sentance in many countries, and in several still is. Why do you want to join this organization? Why are you sitting in lodge instead of doing something else? Why are you on this planet? What are you doing that gives your life meaning? The Chamber of Reflection asks all of those questions.
14. Can regular Freemasonry have an important role in society again?
REPLY: Yes, and it will, but why and when are to be seen. At the moment, we as Freemasons must encourage a more active membership, and by active I do not mean simply activities that keep the lights on and the bills paid, but philosophically and spiritually. The light needs to burn more brightly, and it can, and it will. But it will be a different Freemasonry than we are used to today, at least in the Anglo-Saxon world, and the US in particular. It will be smaller, more expensive, and more selective in who it lets in to be a member. That is the way of things, and not just in Freemasonry, in esotericism as well. This is the Kali Yuga and we are heading to critical point in the near future. The days of easy spirituality in the comfort of your own home are soon to disappear. People will not be able to be passive members of half-dozen organizations, they will have be be selective and committed members of one, two, or three at most – and that includes Freemasons.
Egregores – The Occult Entities That Watch Over Human Destiny