Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dear Friends,
Five is one of those wonderful numbers that we often come across in esotericism. For many, it is most clearly associated with the pentagram, Geburah (the fifth sphere of the Tree of Life), and, by default, the planet Mars. There is also the Hebrew letter Heh, and several different Tarot cards and Paths on the Tree of Life that vary across the source and system being referenced.
Five is all of the Elements, all that is, and all that potentially can come from their innumerable combinations. It is Fire, Air, Water, Earth, and the Space from which they all arise—that which gives them being and substance. Efforts have been made to enumerate those combinations: say, 25 possible variations, or twelve and twenty-four for the permutations of the Tetragrammaton (the fifth Element is always present and all-encompassing, therefore not distinctly represented) and the Elders of the Apocalypse...you get the point, these variations have a nearly infinite degree of sub-variations and relationships to one another, just as a natal chart has a Sun Sign and a Rising Sign, along with other influences at work.

For us, Five is the number of action. It is the Elements not in a static or theoretical state, but active and manifesting. This is why it is also given to Mars, as action requires energy and force directed at a specific point, like an arrow or a spear. Mars energy is not meant to be dispersed in a vague and general pattern until it ripples into oblivion—something too many people allow their lives to do—but should instead be brought to a single point for a single purpose, at a specific moment in time.
We say “every man and woman is a star,” but what do we mean by that? It certainly does not refer to their individual YouTube Channel, but rather to their capacity to create a brilliant and meaningful life for themselves. To do this, all of the Elements must be brought into focus—again, brought to a single point for a specific objective.

Knowledge of Mars also means that we know what to get rid of, what to keep, and when to stop. It is a lack of these qualities that gives rise to the more negative experiences of Mars. We need to focus; e.g., when I write a book, I have a thesis statement and a general outline to keep me on track. It is a book not an encyclopedia I am writing! I need to know what is important in relation to the thesis and what is not. I need to know when to stop—when will it be finished? To paraphrase writer-director-producer George Lucas, in some ways, we never complete the work, we simply abandon it—and that is true. At this point I stop, and at this point the task has come to an end. If all is good, it will be successfully completed.
The same is true with the present fundraising campaign. In four weeks it will come to an end. I desire that it should be a success; in other words, that it will have achieved its goals so that in turn we can use the resulting resources to complete our stated publishing projects. Regardless, the time will come when time itself runs out, and that is the other message of Mars: time is the only resource we have—use it wisely, decide on specific goals, achieve them, and build a life for yourself that makes you truly shine like a Star in the heavenly firmament.

How do we do this, you ask? Simple. Every morning pick one goal you wish to achieve that day, and do it. Just one. When you get good at getting one thing done move on to two. This can even be as simple as making sure your bed is made after leaving it, or that the dishes are out of the sink. Size of the task is not important; repeated conscious dedication to its achievement and then success in its accomplishment are what matter. This is why many people have a “to do” list of tasks. Once one is done they can go down the list to the next. This is why writers often use an outline, to allow them to focus and move quickly and seamlessly to their next topic.
The seeds of gold are in iron, be sure to water them daily.
This week we started Week Five of our eight-week fundraising campaign. Our objective is clear: to achieve our goal of $4,000 for the publishing of two new titles in the Spring of 2015. We are asking you to be a part of it, and appreciate your support. 

Mark Stavish

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Shekinah and the Season of Light
As we enter the fourth week—the halfway mark of our fundraising campaign—I am delighted to note that it also marks the day of the Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year is often troubling for some people; the darkness can be a bit of a physical and emotional drain during the weeks to either side of it, but it also means that we experience an understanding of the cycles of life: everything has its peaks and valleys, its light and its dark. By first recognizing this, and then actually seeing it in our daily lives, it becomes easier to go with the flow of events rather than to be swept aside by them. It also means that our unquenchable desire to attempt to control events around us—either by force or by magic—is more “useless” than we would like to believe. “Useless” in the sense that we often try to control the things we can't through failure to stop and see life as it is—rather than as we want it to be—and then act according to the situation we REALLY have before us, instead of the fantasy in our mind.

Yes, it is dark—so light a candle and deal with it! As the story from the Talmud (that inspired Kipling's poem about the words of wisdom surrounding Solomon's ring of power) so clearly expresses, “This too shall pass.” Or as my great-uncle Edward Tischler would often say, “The only thing permanent is change.” Learning to deal with change is learning to deal with life as it is; only then can our esoteric practices be effective and bring us to deep inner realization.

With the coming of the holiday season, we look to history and mythic-history for inspiration, the common ideal being the presence of Light in the Darkness—how this light incarnates, takes form, and is active in the physical world. You see, the light does not simply exist, it DOES SOMETHING. This is not something passive either; it is always stretching the boundaries of conceptual existence. In Hanukkah, the oil that would only last for one day miraculously lasted for eight; as a result, the LIGHT increased. What was seen as impossible was made possible—and the Light increased.

The Christian legends have it that Jesus was born miraculously—a story similar to that of the origins of Padmasambhava, the Lotus Born Guru who established Buddhism in Tibet—and with his birth, the intangible light of the Ain Soph Aur was made incarnate in the world, fully man and fully divine, so that the light could be seen and take action, not simply exist in a state of blissful detachment (like certain states of negative Nirvana) or even ignorance. “He who sees me sees the Father” is the scriptural affirmation of that reality. It is right here and right now, but it isyou who must recognize it—here again, the scriptural support is perceived as Jesus asks, “Who do they say I am?” When Peter gets the right answer, he is affirmed.

Do you see the the Divine Presence, the Shekinah, in your day-to-day life? Do you do something, or (at times better yet) do nothing, so that this awareness can arise within you? And when it is there, what do you do with it?

Back to the Light...

I had an interesting conversation a few days ago with one of the organizers of a special event. They had been working for several years to establish a spiritual community in their locale with little effect. Numerous qualified teachers were brought in, almost always at the organizer's expense, holding classes often for free and open to the public, only to find that people would gladly fill the seat, but not the coffers to pay for it. Despite this, the organizer continued to hold events hoping that one day the attendees might wake up and see “the light”—that they would become involved in organizing events, form a bi-weekly practice group, and perhaps even pay their own way and “carry their own weight,” so to speak.
But none of this happened.

As the organizer ultimately put it: “This simply doesn't happen. You need a benefactor, a patron of some kind to make this happen. Without the 'dog and pony' show and the constant stimulation and exotic promises, no one shows up. This is just too much work for no return—I quit.” Who was I to disagree? And how? The scripture says not to throw pearls before swine, and to preach the good news, but to “wipe the dust from your feet” and leave if there is no interest or support. Our person saw things as they are, tried to change it, and, despite commentary to the contrary, chose not to assist. Change is inevitable—but it can also be very slow. Use your time wisely; know what you can do and DO IT. Make a difference where and when you can, rather than waiting for the perfect time, or the perfect circumstances, or the perfect project (that never arrives). Maybe the motto of modern occultism should be “Do What You Can Right Now” rather than “Do as thou wilt is the whole of the Law.” (We will keep the “love is the whole of the law” part.)

That is the candle in the darkness.

If we look at scriptures, we see that the average person was busy going about their daily business, too busy to assist: “No room at the Inn.” It was only in the wild and abandoned places—be it a manger or a grotto—that those who lived on the fringes of society, the shepherds (people of the animals, Shiva's entourage) and the Magi (the spiritual elite of the Silk Road, and the pinnacle of Middle Eastern culture and learning), helped to “midwife” the birth of a Savior into the world.

You see, it is no different today. Despite all of the cries of democracy and esotericism, in truth, genuine spirituality, genuine (effective and positively life-changing) initiation is and always has been—and will be—for a self-selected few. Why? Ask the inn-keeper that question and listen to what answer he gives you. The inn-keeper is neither evil nor bad, he is simply pre-occupied with the labor of the day, as are his patrons, traveling to fulfill obligations the overarching military state of the Roman Empire has imposed upon them—participation in the census. By accident or design, it is easy to get distracted by daily life if “scraping by” is what you are doing, or not stopping long enough to remember what Christmas, Hanukkah, or the various Solstice celebrations are really about: Illumination...Peace Profound, a peace only you can discover within yourself and encourage others to discover as well.

This inner peace is not simply stillness, but a still and solid focal point around which an infinity of action is taking place. This peace is not an escape from the World of Action; rather, it is its very source—it is the light shining forth from the cosmic womb.

With the new year upon us, and with your assistance, I will be completing the two publishing projects Child of the Sun and Sea of Sapphire. At this time I am personally inviting each of you to assist in these activities of light, and others that we may bring to your attention in the early months of 2015.

On behalf of the IHS Study Guides publishing team, we wish you the happiest of holidays, in this the Season of Light.
Mark Stavish

The Magic of Numbers and Overcoming Gravity
There is an old saying that goes: “If you want the Devil to appear you need to call on him three times.” I am unsure of the truth of this—I leave it to your discretion to experiment with. However, crossroads are a bit cold, slippery, and busy this time of year so...perhaps wait until it's a bit warmer before you call on Old Nick. Maybe a more gentlemanly example might be found in Freemasonry. There is an old (rarely adhered to anymore) tradition that says if one wants to join a Masonic lodge, they need to ask three times. This does more than simply discourage the superficially curious; it dates back to when joining Freemasonry was a serious—at times a life or death—decision. “Once a Mason, always a Mason.” It is not something that can be “undone” or unlearned. This appearance of the number “three” in prayers, petitions, and invocations of all kinds is commonplace: it means that one has spent time in deliberation concerning what they want and are committed to its achievement. Or, in the words of Ian Fleming (author of the James Bond novels): “Once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.”
How much energy we put into something will define its outcome. The question is: do we have enough energy? Can we supply it at the right time and place for the desired outcome? Can I flap my arms fast enough to fly or should I buy a plane ticket? Should I purchase my tomatoes or build and maintain a small greenhouse so I can eat them in the wintertime? You get the picture. Without unlimited resources we need to pick and choose our actions carefully...or risk ending up either dead or with nothing to show for what we've done.
That is where the number “three” comes in. “Three” is about limits, the limits needed to achieve something. It is the triangle of manifestation. It is also related to Saturn, the lord of duality, the gatekeeper of the upper realms and the foundation and support of all manifestation. Without limits, it is all just one big puddle of mud, cosmic or otherwise.
Allan Miller (better known to most of you under his pseudonym, Dr. Christopher Hyatt) liked to quote Dr. Robert Lindner who postulated that there are three obstacles we as human beings must overcome: gravity, ignorance, and death.
Gravity we overcome every time we move, and when we stop moving—for good that is—gravity and death win. Ignorance we overcome every time we surmount a limitation, usually one within ourselves first, although it may also be the unintended result of an action. For example, “It was a good idea at the time” are famous words said by many an adolescent male to their school principal, their parents, the police, and the judge—you can throw in the attending emergency room doctor while you're at it.
Death is the last barrier to be overcome, and is the result of conquering the previous two first—after we have gotten off our Muladhara Chakra and done something, seeking the most effective and energetically efficient way to get it done (gravity's defeat), and after we have reasoned and reflected (by the use of the imagination) on our limits and how to vanquish them by ourselves or with the assistance of others (the overcoming of ignorance).
From this, the magic number of “three” goes from limiting us like a lid on a can of beans to becoming a channel,allowing us to concentrate our energy along specific lines of action whereby our mental creations become material manifestations and our emotions function as the fuel for our realizations. 

Yet few people actually get what they want after asking three times—just ask the average child. Some adults who have never matured emotionally learn that throwing the equivalent of a hissy fit will get them attention and even some “bones” thrown their way to placate them. But in the end, they never really get what they want—only something to pacify them until next time. These people are looked upon and treated like children because they do not have enough self-discipline and self-reflection to take control of their own lives.
Which leads us to the next magic number...
Sir Martin Rees, Royal Society Research Professor at Cambridge University and holder of the title “Astronomer Royal,” points out in his book Just Six Numbers: Deep Forces That Shape The Universe that the universe is a finely tuned place where even minor deviations in six basic equations that define how the physical world works would result in a very different experience for all of us. One need not be a “Cambridge Don” to understand this. In Tibetan Buddhism, the apocryphal quote of Guru Padmasambhava is often stated, “While my thoughts are as broad as the sky, my actions are as fine as sand.” Think broadly, act carefully, as all actions have consequences—intended or not. This is in fact the nature of karma; karma is directly related to action, and by this we meanphysical action more so than mental action. Thoughts without physical action behind them are incomplete and therefore less significant in either this life or any possible future life. Thoughts backed up by action have measurable effects; these types of thoughts define who we are and who we will become. It is the number “six” that relates to the sphere of Tiphareth on the Tree of Life; it is this sphere of activity in mind and body that awakens us to our real self—it is “here” (in quotes, as there is no “here”—only realization, or wisdom, and action based upon it) that we overcome our ignorance.

Your actions, not your thoughts, will ultimately define your path. Your thoughts are only important insofar as they take shape in your inner (subjective) and outer (objective) worlds. 

Tiphareth sits at the center of the Tree; in it, all the forces of the Tree are connected. It is the cosmic version of the party game “Six Degrees of Separation.” I don't know if you will find Kevin Bacon there, but it is only when we start realizing our connections to others that we can realize our own authentic self. Life is the mirror of our mind. If you want to see something beautiful and meaningful, it is up to you to build it. This building, more often than not, cannot be done alone, but needs to be done in connection and co-operation with others.

Six is also the key to our transformation—not just in abstract terms of mysticism, but in a very real sense. In marketing, it is said that, for the average person, the message of change or action you want them to undertake must be seen or heard a minimum of six times. Again, ask any parent how often they need to ask their child to do something, and I will safely bet the answer “six times” comes up more often than two or three. The latter just gets their attention; it takes another two or three times to get them moving. Overcoming gravity in ourselves and others is an energy-demanding task until new, energy-efficient habits are formed.
On yet another note, if we take nine steps outside of our daily lives, we begin to enter the Path of Return. It is no coincidence that “nine” is important across various systems: there are nine vehicles in Nyingma Vajrayana, nine degrees in the old Rose+Croix system, nine feet in a magic circle, and nine squares in the so-called Square of Saturn found in Western magic and in Taoism. 

“Nine” is about teachings, or levels of teachings. It is the number of symbolic steps or realizations we need to have to complete the Work. The most important realization we need to have is that of cause and effect (or karma). Avoid the Bad, perform the Good, and learn how to overcome both without falling into the error of self-absorption or blissful ignorance and oblivion. Learn to understand yourself and the world as it is and to do good when and where you can—but realize that establishing Paradise on Earth for everyone is not in your capacity, job description, or even set of possible options without the consent and cooperation of “everyone.” Through your own awakening you will become “the change you are looking for,” one that will inspire and help others—but only those who want it, and then only within their capacity. Teachings are like diets, or as Jesus says in the Gospel, “Milk for babes, and for you strong meat.” Each can only learn according to their capacity; that capacity is limited only by their own personal effort. Yet change takes effort—personal effort—born of personal necessity and desire. If there is no perception of need, then no effort will be put forth, and change will come very slowly. If by force or by reason we could get people to “avoid the negative, perform the positive” then there would be no reason for me to write this letter to you.  

You will remember that I previously wrote two letters to you asking for your assistance in bringing some rare and important teachings to print so that others can benefit from them. What was your reaction to the first letter? It was a rational appeal. Did it strike you? Did it move you to act? We both know it did not. But only you can answer why. Then there was the second letter. This had more of an emotional appeal. Did it move you to act? Regardless of your answer being “yes” or “no,” reflect on why you responded the way you did.
Finally, I ask again for your support. Why? Because the goal has not yet been reached. We have eight weeks to this campaign, and it takes a minimum of six requests before most people will act. So only by reminding you each week of our needs, and the positive role you can play in bringing the Institute's goals to fruition, will our combined objectives be achieved.
Because you are reading this, to a greater or lesser degree I am functioning as your “friend and guide” on this path;you are part of the fellowship that we call the Institute for Hermetic Studies, whose teachings in practice and transmission is in part your responsibility. I am asking each of you personally to reflect upon this and to assist me, as well as your Brothers and Sisters—known and unknown, existing now and in the future—by financially supporting our publication projects so that we can make more information available to you and others on the Path of Return.

Please go to the link below and make your contribution today.

Together, we can make three the magic number.

Thank you.

Mark Stavish 

Dear Friends,

“May all beings be happy. May all beings find light. May all beings find illumination.”

These are the words of prayers that I say with my children every night. Everyone wants to be happy. What brings happiness to one being—be that a person, a dog, or a ghost—will be different than what brings happiness to another. Each being is both unique in their journey and yet identical to all others in their fundamental aspiration towards happiness. Conditions change; our needs change with them. But our desires, our deeply held passions, stay with us not only for years, but across the years and from lifetime to lifetime.

Do you want to be happy?

Would you like to awaken your dormant potential of psychic clarity, inner bliss, and, from that, health and longevity?

Would you like to have the ability to reduce or even remove the pains of life to the point of its appearing nearly miraculous?

As a young neophyte I remember meeting lodge members and independent practitioners who, despite their advanced age, looked and acted decades younger. It would only be upon their passing that I would realize how old they were, and that they had managed to “beat the game” and live long, healthy, and vital lives—often into their 80s and 90s, and, in a few cases, into the triple digits. What was their secret or secrets? Some of this I have discussed in The Path of Alchemy – Energetic Healing and the World of Natural Magic and some in Kabbalah for Health and Wellness. Now I will detail more of the technical and little-known esoteric material in Child of the Sun – Psychic and Physical Rejuvenation in Alchemy and Qabala.

Here are the guiding principals in this work:
• “Whatever may be accomplished by a simple method should not be attempted by a complicated one,” and,
• “Ignis et Azoth tibi sufficiunt” (“Fire and the First Matter are Sufficient”).

In this book we will detail some of the most direct and effective methods for psychic and physical regeneration known, techniques that can be done by anyone, anywhere, and under any circumstances.
Many people tell me they want this very knowledge. It is with the desire to help them along their way that I have chosen to write Child of the Sun, but time is limited. I can write books based on decades of experience, or I can spend time on my own practice, career, and caring for my family. I can write books that have proven benefits for their readers, or I can spend time working on layout and design when there are others who can do this better, faster, and more economically than I. I can write books, or...well, you get the picture. Time is precious; it is the only true resource we have, and it is non-renewable. Once spent, it does not return. So, if you would like to add some quality and quantity to your lifespan, to your spiritual and physical health, you need to dedicate the time and resources that will allow that to happen for you.

Part of that dedication is helping those who are able to help you.

The Institute for Hermetic Studies runs its programs and activities primarily from the goodwill of its dedicated donors. Through their generosity we have been able to hold numerous free and low-cost educational programs across the years. Now we are looking to you, asking you to join their ranks, so that we can continue to make the best use of our time here (and yours as well) by producing critically important esoteric titles.

The Institute for Hermetic Studies fundraising campaign will provide the funds necessary to bring the next two volumes of the IHS Study Guide Series into print. These titles are:
Child of the Sun – Psychic & Physical Rejuvenation in Alchemy and Qabala (IHS Vol. 3)
Sea of Sapphire – Visionary Techniques and Talismanic Magic with the Tree of Life (IHS Vol. 4)
For more information on this campaign and how your donation—be it $5 or $500—can make a critical difference in your search for health, happiness, and Illumination, please visit:

Become a genuine Child of Hermes. Take advantage of this opportunity to feel good by doing good, knowing that your financial support is needed, appreciated, and helping both others and yourself on the journey we call “The Path of Return.”


Mark Stavish

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dear Friends,
I recently listened to a YouTube recording of Manly P. Hall presenting a lecture entitled “The Alchemy of Attitude.” Given with his characteristic humor and insight into the human condition, it is just as relevant now as it was when he first delivered it decades ago. Hall's message can easily be summed up in a single phrase, something I have often said in one form or another myself: “Stop wasting your time on problems you cannot solve by yourself. If you want to influence the collective, then you must transform yourself into a positive force within the collective.” It is to this end that all of our activities at the Institute for Hermetic Studies have been dedicated—providing tools so that individuals can transform themselves first, and, as a result, be able to have a positive impact on their families, neighbors, communities, and the world as a whole.
Many often tell me that there is nothing significant they can do, or that they do not know what to do. My response to both of these “assertions” is the same: start small, and do what you can. Opportunities will grow from there. I hear these claims a great deal particularly in relation to charitable contributions. Many feel that if they cannot give a “large and significant amount,” then why do anything? This is really little more than an excuse for doing nothing.
Albert Einstein called compound interest the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” It is an example of how small amounts add up. The classic tale of how quickly it becomes significant can be exhibited easily on a checkerboard. To demonstrate this I encourage each of you to do the following: Take a standard checkerboard and put a single penny on the first square, two pennies on the second square, four on the third, and continue to double the amount you place on each successive square until you reach the final square. In truth,none of you have enough wealth to reach the final square. While the first square is only worth one penny, the last square of the first row is worth $1.28. The first square of the second row is worth twice that, or $2.56, the second square is worth $5.12, the third square is worth $10.24, and by the time we reach the final square of the second row, we have a single square whose value is worth $327.68—and this does not include all the wealth that went before it. (In case you're wondering, the final square of the checkerboard is “worth” just over eighteen quintillion dollars—imagine a “1” with nineteen zeros following it and you're close.) Clearly, it is easy to see how such “small amounts” add up very quickly to make a significant difference.
A less mathcentric way of looking at the question is with the price of a cup of coffee each morning on your way to work. At two dollars a cup, you spend an average of $10 a week, $40 a month, and close to $500 a year at the morning drive-through. Is that too much? Is there something better you can do with that $500? Or even just a fraction of that money? I like to think so; to help prove it, I am inviting each of you to participate in our Coffee Cup Challenge.
To show you what a difference your donation can make, I am asking each of you reading this to go one day, one week, or one month(or the equivalent thereof if you want to space it out) without your daily cup of coffee from the drive-through or sidewalk vendor, and to donate that money to the Institute for Hermetic Studies fundraising campaign, whose funds are to be used to bring the next two volumes of the IHS Study Guides Series into print. These titles are:
Child of the Sun – Psychic & Physical Rejuvenation in Alchemy and Qabala (IHS Vol. 3)
Sea of Sapphire – Visionary Techniques and Talismanic Magic with the Tree of Life (IHS Vol. 4)
That's it: $2.00. That is all we are asking FROM EACH OF YOU to help us make these two volumes containing highly specialized esoteric practices available. If EVERYONE on our lists who receive this gives us $2.00, we will exceed our goal of $4,000. Now, clearly some of our readers cannot or may not participate, so, for those who can, we encourage you to give a little more: whatever you are comfortable with—$5, $10, $15—whatever is comfortable for you.
That's it. That is all it takes to make a difference. Be it five minutes of meditation several times a day to find enlightenment, eating small meals more often to lose weight, writing two pages a day to complete a book, or investing five or ten dollars a week into your future—and one or two dollars a week into your cause of choice—small amounts add up.

Thank you, and we look forward to your support.
Mark Stavish

Sunday, November 30, 2014

IHS Goes Indiegogo!

Good Morning,

In September of 2014 the Institute for Hermetic Studies initiated its own publishing activities known as the "IHS Study Guides", specializing in high quality student and reader requested materials. Our first title, Light on the Path - A Study Guide for Qabala, Alchemy, and Astrology was successful enough in the first month to warrant the release of a second title. In October of 2014 we released The Inner Way - The Power of Prayer and Belief in Spiritual Practice.

To continue with our publishing efforts we asking for your assistance with bringing volumes three and four into print.
Child of the Sun – Psychic & Physical Rejuvenation in Alchemy and Qabala (IHS Vol. 3)

Sea of Sapphire – Visionary Techniques and Talismanic Magic with the Tree of Life (IHS Vol. 4)

In funding the publication of these volumes, you will be assisting in making this little known material available in a practical and clear manner to a wider audience of students. This will aid individual students, but also those working in more organized settings to bring about the fullness of the expression of what the 17th Century Rosicrucians called, the Light, Life, and Love in each of us.

Our campaign goal is to raise $4,000 (US), sufficient funds to continue the process of reader supported specialty publications whose mass appeal may be limited, but whose importance to the niche audience is exceptional, some say critical, to their understanding of the topics presented. Financial support on the order of $4,000 will provide the Institute for Hermetic Studies with approximately $3,000 after fees and donor perks are deducted, thereby providing funding for TWO new titles in the IHS Study Guides Series.
What We Need & What You Get
It costs approximately $3,000 to bring a non-fiction book to market. However, with IHS volunteers, we have been able to reduce that cost to about $1,500 per title. In short, we can produce two books for the cost of one. Funds raised will be used to cover costs of proofreading, copy editing, and typesetting/design.

If we do not reach our goal, all funds will be donated to The Louis Claude de St. Martin Fund (of the Luzerne Foundation) and existing volumes from the IHS Study Guides Series may be substituted for future ones for perks. The LCSM Fund was established in 2001 to aid in the support of academic and practical esoteric studies. To date, it has donated money to both public and university libraries, supported The New Alexandrian Library Project, and provided funding for attendance at academic conferences (Association for the Study of Esotericism, 2014, Colgate University). For more information see: http://www.hermeticinstitute.org/html/lcsm.html

Your contribution to the success of this project will be recognized by a host of Perks, including PDFs, and copies of the books upon their publications.

Please help us so that we can continue to help you. Click on the link below and make a donation, and forward it to others you know who may be interested in our Work. We look forward to hearing from you, and in your continued support.

Mark Stavish

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Some Advice to Group Leaders and Members 

A great deal of time and energy goes into establishing, running, and maintaining an esoteric study group, regardless of its tradition or structure. For this reason it is important that the time, talent, and treasure poured into it bear fruit that is desirable to all who participate.  For this reason, it is important to have a firm conviction in one's mind, as a group founder, leader, and member as the aims and purpose of the group, your role and that of others, and what is expected of you, and what you can expect from others. Ideally, this should be clearly stated before any instruction, ritual work, or initiations are performed.  However, more often then not, people stumble into either starting a group and learn as they go, or find themselves invited into an existing group by one of its members, but little is known about the organization's leaders, members, teachings, or practices with this information only coming after one has affiliated.  While a balance of privacy and openness is essential to all work – be it mundane or esoteric – the following guidelines will make it easier for everyone involved.

1. A group should be as easy to get out of as it is to get into.
You can have an open door or invitation-only policy, but it must be in writing.  If you have an open door policy, members must know that their participation is semi-public knowledge. If you have an invitation only policy, you need to have established means of vetting new potential members.  

2. “It is better to rent than to own.”
If you are meeting regularly at a private residence, then the member(s) whose dwelling is used becomes the de facto owner of the group.  This is often the group's founder, but can also be at another member's house, apartment, or even place of business after hours.  This is fine in the beginning, but if a group is to grow it needs to avoid being overly dependent on one or two people.  Find a Unitarian-Univeralist Church, New Age bookstore, or other magical group from whom you can rent space for your meetings.  This will also make it easier to have an open door policy – as strangers are not just showing up at someone's home – and provides access to possible new members.  It is also a good way to vet potential members as well if one is working on an invitation-only policy.  To this end, also get a Post Office Box for mail – yes, you will still get some – and a checking account that requires two or three signatures for checks to be drawn on the account.  

3, “Many hands lighten the load.”
Every member is valuable, every member does something.  Even in group of less than a dozen people it is important to have a president, secretary, and treasure. The secretary and treasure can be combined, but then a third office need to be added.  If possible have the administrative duties be the concern of one member, and the teaching/ritualistic duties the concern of another.  If space is rented then dues must be paid be each member in a timely manner. To this end, they should be paid annually or every six moths so that the groups knows what it needs to do to meet its obligations – not matter how large or small they may be.  Give every member something to do and they will keep coming back.

4. “A Friend and Guide”
Assign a mentor to every new member who officially joins the group.  This will give them someone to ask questions to, as well as prepare each member for leadership positions.

5. In for the Long Haul
Every group must have a vision;  be clear about yours, keep it simple and attainable, and your group will last longer than you expect.  Create a goal  or set of goals that are within your reach and measurable (ie, a. to have 12 active members over a period of five years, b. to have 90% complete the four years of training, and c., to sponsor one sister-group after a period of seven years of continuous teaching and practice).  

6. Stay on the Path
It is very common for oganizations regardless of their original purpose to experience “mission creep” as they grow.  This means that they continue expand into related areas of activities until they experience overreach and collapse.  They move so far from their first purpose that they loose sight of what their original mission.  The purpose of esoteric groups is to teach, study, and practice esotericism.  To this end, the discussion of religion and politics is often forbidden.  While the apparent reason for this is simple, there is a second and more important reason – pride.  It is very common among those who undertake “alternative'' paths, be it spiritual, medical, dietary, lifestyle, or political to see themselves as being superior and more enlightened than those who do not or who disagree with them.  This pride quickly swells into a social arrogance with destroys relationships and groups with it.  When you can call control the weather and heal at a distance, then you will be in a position to advocate for wordly concerns, until then, stay quiet and humble, and focus on your own awakening.

Stay focussed on your group's original goals and avoid any support in the open body of the group or in the social period thereafter of political, social, or other projects not DIRECTLY related to your group's mission.  In general it is best not to support anything outside of your group and to leave that the individual members.  This is particularly true if you start undertaking fundraising for capital projects – if someone gives you money and you give away, you risk not only offending that source of funding, but also learning the hard lesson that you can only “go to the well” so many times.  Use your resources wisely, and your members's time, talent and teasure are your greatest resources.  Cultivate trust, support, and demonstrate good stewardship.

7. Learn When to Say “No”
It is rare for a group or organizational leader to tell a volunteer to stop.  In fact, what often happens is those seeking identity and meaning in their lives become involved in volunteer activities and then let it consume them.  Their personal lives, careers, family and even health can break-down through an over abundance of enthusiasm for “the cause” - whatever that cause maybe.  Leaders need to pay careful attention to not taking on too much and to delegate duties, and they also need to look out for members to be sure that too much is not being expected of them in return.  Go slow, take it easy, check your results, and “make haste slowly” to avoid burnout.

8. Preparing for the Path of the Hermit
No one comes to the Path for the best of reasons, all come, in one form or another, for what they can get from it – power, health, self-confidence, a purpose to their life – and each in turn must learn how to serve and assist others if they are to achieve their goal.  Anyone who has participated in an esoteric group, regardless of what it may be, will often tell you that the experiences they had – good, bad or indifferent – were among some of the most important experiences of their life.  Intense relationships are formed in the cauldron of ritual.  Personal demons are brought to the surface to be exorcised and integrated as latent and potential powers and abilities are recognized and manifested.  It is easy to make one's lodge, circle, or group the center point of one's life – and as we have show, to the detriment rather than benefit of the equally important but more mundane aspect of daily living.  

For those who serve as leaders it is easy to become dishearten, cynical and jaded – yet it is enthusiasm, encouragement, and joy that we must constantly cultivate in ourselves and in others.  To avoid over identification with one's group and role in that group, it is important to train each member for their inevitable separation from the organization.  This separation may be temporary or permanent (such as relocation or death) but it will happen, and for the individual and group to benefit from this separation, it must be planned for and done successfully.

Hence, any member who has been in the group for seven years should take a sabbatical of their choice in their eighth year.  They may attend group meetings, but are forbidden to participate in any active role.  This is a year of rest and reflection.  They may choose not to attend, but will be welcomed back when their year is over.  Members who have been active for ten or twelve years are to take the year off  from group activities and are to avoid any contact with group members. They are to undertake a magical retreat during this period. This Path of the Hermit will prepare them for being of greater service to their fellow Travelers when they return.  

Of course, other possibilities exist, and it is up to each group, its leadership and members, to decide who best to meet everyone's needs as they travel the Path of Return together.  In this way, the seeds planted now will continue to grow and bear fruit not just for this generation, but for generations to come.  

An excerpt from, Light on the Path – A Study Guide for Qabala, Alchemy and Astrology by Mark Stavish.  Available from Amazon at:  


Light on the Path - A Study Guide for Qabala, Alchemy and Astrology  

We are pleased to announce the release of Light on the Path – A Study Guide for Qabala, Alchemy and Astrology. The perfect handbook for individual or group study and practice.
Light on the Path – A Study Guide for Qabala, Alchemy and Astrology from the Institute for Hermetic Studies is a self-paced program for the study and practice of Western esotericism. Using Hermetic Qabala as its core, individuals or groups can use this program to progressively study and apply the principles of ritual magic, practical alchemy (spagyrics and mineral) and astrology (natal, horary, and mundane) at their own pace. Each Year is approached in twenty-four sessions, or “Weeks” for those involved in group work, and has two sets of twenty-five questions which can be used as quizzes or catechisms to test one's level of proficiency. Standard off-the-shelf sources are suggested for use through-out the course, making it easy to obtain the needed references.

Light on the Path is far and away the most complete study guide for the student of the Hermetic mysteries available today. I would have cheerfully given my eye teeth for a guide half so good when I was beginning my magical studies.” -- John Michael Greer, author of The Celtic Golden Dawn
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Friday, April 25, 2014

Providence and Utopian Dreams of a Future Past

I was recently speaking with a doctor who was organizing a major spiritual retreat and educational facility in New England.  Given our background together and knowing several people in common, when he asked for help I gladly gave it.  Everyone I spoke to involved with the project was top of the line, many of them well known within their professional disciplines, and recognized as authorities within their particular esoteric and spiritual areas of expertise.  In short, a good group of people who can make things happen.  

As part of my advice to my 'new' old friend, I suggest he contact an organization I was involved with during its start-up days, the New England Holistic Counselors Association, or NEHCA.  NEHCA was based out of Salve Regina University, Newport, Rhode Island.  The organization was started in 1991 and was the brainchild of Dr. Jack Childs, Director of the Holistic Counseling Program at Salve Regina University.  I served on NEHCA's Public Relations Committee for two years writing press releases for events.  The theme of the first annual conference was “Bringing Holism into the Mainstream” and our keynote speaker was Patricia Raskin, M.Ed., Director of Raskin Resources (Cheshire, Ct.). Raskin had recently authored her first book, Success, Your Dream and You – A Guide to Personal Marketing, which emphasized her “5P Formula” of Purpose, Planning, Passion, Persistence, and Patience as the cornerstones to success.  The conference was held April 13th, and according to the press release we sent out, it took three years of planning to get off the ground.  

Our second conference was a little less creative than I would have liked – recycling part of the previous year's theme – and was entitled, “Bringing Holism into the Mainstream: Becoming Bridge Builders”; our keynote speaker was Claudine Schneider, five-time elected Representative to the U.S. Congress from Rhode Island.  Rep. Schneider was asked to present because of her deeply personal interest in alternative therapies, an interest she developed after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease in 1973.  As part of her presentation, Rep. Schneider presented her views on the future of holism in not only healthcare, but also politics and business.  The event was held on April 4, 1992, and, once again, at the university campus.   

I mention this because this was the halcyon days of the New Age Movement, when the sun always shone, even in the rain.  In the greater Providence, Rhode Island area alone there were up to six New Age, Neo-Pagan, and herbalist shops with another half-dozen going from the border up to Boston.  Several publications abounded, one of which – The Saggaterisus Sun Times published by Devon LaRue  – I cut my early writing teeth on, and despite the various witchwars, budding internet flamewars, emerging gnostic churches and their competitive lineages, and the explosion of Rosicrucian, Martinist, Templar, and irregular Masonic bodies, there was a general sense of optimism in the air – impending cataclysmic earth changes or UFO invasion aside, that is. 

  We were flush with money even if we didn't know it at the time. In fact, when I look back at events from those times, the price has remained very much the same as it is today. It was nothing to spend $10 to $25 for an evening lecture, or $50 to $150 for day. A weekend was anywhere from $100 to $1,000 or more.  My annual dues for the Rosicrucian Order (AMORC), Traditional Martinist Order (TMO), CIRCES, International College of Esoteric Studies  (ICES), and Philosophers of Nature (LPN-PON), was around $700 or $800 a year.  This was done while attending graduate school at night, working in a grocery store during the day, and paying $650 a month for rent – more than our current mortgage twenty years later, but less than our health insurance (courtesy of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act). 

The majority of things in life we cannot change; we can only change our perspective to them. This is something that in pushing 'holism into the mainstream' we have ignored.  When we bring things into the mainstream, we bring them to their lowest common denominator: the idea, feeling, or thing that the greatest number of people can understand and be willing to participate in.  In holism, that means healthcare.  Healthcare is primarily physical health, although it gets extended to mental and emotional well-being as well – hence the idea of holism.  A murky layer of 'spirituality' is layered over it somewhere – but it is really the 'feeling' part taken to a level of multi-cultural or intellectual abstraction such as yoga, meditation, Feng Shui, and other shiny objects tied to string that catch our attention as part of the entire package of 'holistic'.  As long as it is 'explainable' AND safe, then holism is acceptable. When we take the same topic, be it Feng Shui, dream analysis, yoga, or Tibetan Buddhism and move it within its own context – and that is the critical part here – into areas that border on the non-rational, such as ghosts, demons, and the influence of the non-physical on physical life, we have crossed over into the realm of what is called in the West 'paranormal'.  

Now this is key, as within its own mainstream cultural context the idea of a ghost or demon in Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, or Tantric Yoga is normal. In its transplanted culture, it is paranormal, or 'beyond normal'.  This means simply that true holism can never become mainstream until the entire cultural perspective is shifted to accept what it is about as normal. Until then, it is just watered-down, bastardized, wishful thinking. Now, it can still have a positive effect, but it is not what it claims to be – it is outside its domain. The fact that acupuncture is widely accepted in all therapeutic settings – from preventative medicine to treatment for addictions – is a testimony to its effectiveness; but it is not the acupuncture of traditional Taoism.  

But here we are only looking at what we like, and ignoring the rest. We are taking the outermost expression, and ignoring the deeper philosophical and, with it, cultural context, which gave rise to these methods.  In short, we do ourselves and the methods a disservice and grave injustice when we treat holism mechanically rather than contextually.  This is ironic as it reduces what is supposed to be a 'spiritual' or non-physical modality to little more than a series of technical activities that anyone can learn regardless of their background or character.

Now back to the New England Holistic Counselors Association and why it matters.

You see, last year when I went to see how NEHCA was doing, the only information I was able to find was two years old – not completely uncommon for volunteer organizations. A few days ago when I went to see if anything was updated, their website was down, and their listing in Guidestar (the 'go to' website for research on non-profit organizations) stated that they had failed to file an IRS 990 Form for three years in a row, and were considered inactive and no longer in existence. 

As such, an organization I was involved with in its earliest of days after inception, had failed to live more than twenty years.  Why this is I do not know. All I know is that the enthusiasm, hopes, dreams, and aspirations of being an organization that could make big changes in the therapeutic community, the profession, the region, and by extension, the world – didn't happen.  It failed.  Now, the reasons for this are not known to me, and I have tried to find out, but it may be a sore spot.  For myself, though, I saw a warning sign in the very beginning.

It was literally a sign; it was our logo: a green and blue device that looked like a modified Yin-Yang symbol.  Given that our membership was over ninety percent female and modestly academic at that time, it was no surprise that the Elements of Water and Air would be so heavily emphasized.  I voiced my concerns about there not being enough “Earth and Fire” in it, but I am not sure that was even understood.  In the end, the imbalance won out, and, like water and air, the organization simply slipped away with time. In fact, I am sure that if it were not for me mentioning it, none of you would have even heard of NEHCA, despite the very prestigious, even glorious settings of its origins in Newport, Rhode Island.  

The message here is simple: good intentions are not enough.  Even after you back up those intentions with solid action, continued action is required, long after the enthusiasm of 'saving the world' has vanished.  Which leads me to the next few points:  1) enthusiasm, 2) saving the world, 3) organizational life span.

Or in reverse order, the life span of an organization is directly proportional to the degree of enthusiasm brought to the organization's mission.  The degree to which this mission can actually be achieved is irrelevant; what matters is that regular, measurable,  incremental advances be made.  Once the advances stop, the enthusiasm begins to wane, and the life blood of the organization begins to slip away.  

To prevent this from happening in esoteric movements, degrees or grades are widely used.  Here, each degree is said to represent a rung on the ladder of inner advancement, or, more realistically, to symbolically represent one's advancement while acting as a means of delivering a specific set of teachings, with each set of teachings linked to those before and after it like a rung on a ladder.  This works particularly well when it is believed that the 'true secrets' of the group are in the higher degrees.  It also provides a means of keeping members involved and affiliated when very often they may have left the organization years earlier. In AMORC, the Ninth Degree was originally the highest they conferred. Then the Twelfth Degree was added, and, with it, the Tenth and Eleventh.  Originally the Twelfth Degree consisted of about two years' worth of lessons.  It later became about ten years or roughly larger than the entire period of time it took to get to it in the first place.  For those who completed the Twelfth Degree, the Planes were added.  These went on for several more years and were essentially a review of prior material.  Those members who persevered and made tremendous contributions to the organization were also given an honorary Thirteenth Degree (XIII), or the degree reserved for the the organization's leader – the Imperator. 

While it may seem like a pyramid scheme (no pun intended), the main problems facing every organization are the same regardless of whether it is the Boy Scouts or the Illuminati; they are:  getting people in, getting them to participate, getting them to stay, and avoiding problems along the way.

Now, each of these steps is more difficult than the previous one. It is easier to get people in the door than it is to get them to stay, or return.  Getting them to return is easier than getting them to participate; getting participation over the long-term is easier than getting them to do all of that without personalizing problems and getting involved in organizational politics – all in the name of the mission while completely losing sight of it.

What does this have to do with NEHCA?  Simple:  for an organization to fail to file its IRS 990 Form for three years in a row it had to be dead in the water to begin with. That means, that no matter how many breathing people were on its Board of Trustees, there is a good chance they were all that was left of a once-thriving organization, or, the members were not in communication with the leaders. In short, nearly everyone at the top was asleep at the wheel.  This happened to two local non-profits near me, one of which I served on the board of until resigning as a result of it losing its non-profit status and the President, Treasurer, and a sitting board member failing to inform the rest of us.  As you can tell, it is not that simple: the personal and political relationships between the leaders were complex and a clear conflict of interest with their roles as volunteer leaders of the non-profit.  Yet, they were the only ones that showed up, so they got to call the shots, and shut down anyone else who disagreed – despite that what they were doing was blatantly illegal.  Is this the same as NEHCA?  I doubt it. But I am sure that in the end, only the true believers where showing up, and the talent pool got shallow.  In short, you do not forget to file your taxes three years in a row – you simply stop caring.  

As I write this the earth spins in its orbit and a major political crisis gives the appearance of threatening the peace of Eastern Europe.  All of the great idealism of my youth has been spent, and I find myself surrounded by men – many a generation older than myself – who are facing the abyss of cynicism and despair.  We ask ourselves, “What was it all for? What did we accomplish? What will our legacy be?”  

When I examine the nine major organizations that I have been involved with across my lifetime, organizations whose stated goal was the improvement of the human condition by focusing on spiritual principles and awakening, I notice a trend: all are dead or nearly so.  The average lifespan was less than 15 years.  

If your average lifespan is less than a generation, how much impact or substantial change can you really make?  

Yes, seeds can be planted, but they take time to grow, and in human terms the seasons of our lives are measured in generational stages of ideally 25 years each, but, in reality, of about 18 ½ years for those living in the industrialized world.  That is, if each of us can expect to live to about 74 years of age, and the first quarter of that time, or 18-20 years, is spent just learning how to get through the day, and the next quarter, or 18-20 years, is spent making a living and raising a family, how much good can we really do if the organizations and movements that we have cultivated during the most productive and vital years of our lives essentially collapse and rot before us?  What is that telling us about our individual and collective cultural condition?  

Recently a heavily sanitized letter was sent out to over 125 people on a local email list requesting their assistance in supporting local programs that each had benefited from.  I say the letter was sanitized because its initial content was much more forthcoming and direct. It was not couched in the gentle 'Oreo Speak' of contemporary psycho-educational babble, wherein hard and difficult truths are neatly sandwiched between two pieces of 'cookie' to make it more palatable.  However, my wife's cautious nature prevailed, and instead a shorter, kinder, and gentler letter was sent.  I have included it here for your reading pleasure:

Dear Friends, 

Since 2011, we had the opportunity to host speakers on Tibetan Buddhism in NEPA, initially Lama Rinchen and Lama Pema. This expanded to include Lamas from the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center (NY), who represent Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoches. We have recently invited Lama Rangbar, an American-born Lama who has spent twenty years in Nepal.  We encourage all of you to attend this very special event on March 29th.

Over the last three years we sincerely appreciated the opportunity to host these events, with 20 to 30 individuals attending on average.  We would like to continue to play a role in bringing the teachings (dharma) to the area in the future.  However, we need individuals to volunteer their time, treasure, and talent to help make this happen.

Responsibilities include communicating with teachers to schedule events, finding a location, and preparing press releases, arranging pre- and post- event activities and follow-up. It is also necessary to provide food and lodging for teachers and their assistants, and an atmosphere where they can relax prior to and after events. 

With each event costing on average $300 we have started to charge a fee to offset the costs associated with hosting Lama Rangbar, as the donations received during previous events have not provided a reasonable honorarium for the speaker, nor have they been used to cover any of the expenses associated with each event.

The Three Jewels – the Teacher, the Teachings, and the Community of Practitioners – are considered very precious, and without all three, it is impossible for the teachings to continue.  We are so fortunate to have made connections with teachers who are willing to teach us!  At this point, it is necessary to create a more cohesive community (sangha).  It is in this spirit that we are asking for individuals to help carry the responsibility of making the dharma accessible to themselves and others, with these events, and in other ways. These include, but are not limited to:

Assisting with visiting speakers.
Assisting with the establishment and maintenance of an 
organized meditation group.
Financial support and sponsorship.

If you would like to help in the expansion of the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism in Northeastern Pennsylvania, please contact us by email or phone.

(phone number)

Of the 125 people who received the email, no one replied.

So, at the end of the day, all the talk of light and love, dharma, and bodhichitta is little more than that – talk.  Empty words not backed up by any action whatsoever.  

At the event that the above letter was hoping to support, one of the attendees, a long-time student of Tibetan Buddhism and fellow Vajra Brother, stated to the attending Lama, “It is good to have you here, we don't get many teachers coming through.”  I turned and said,  “Joe, what do mean we don't have teachers coming through?  Andrea and I have been hosting two events a year for the last three and half years.”  To which he replied, “That's not many.”  “Well, help out and sponsor an event,” I said. His face flushed quickly and he said, “Who made it your job?”  “My wife,” I said half-jokingly. 

Well, that is only partly true. My wife asks me to host these events so I do.

If I stopped, public and promoted Tibetan Buddhist events in Northeastern Pennsylvania would disappear.  Yes, there are two other groups that I have heard about, but that is it.  No contact despite emails, promotions, and open invitations from myself to them to visit and participate with us in an open and non-sectarian manner.  Now, back to my wife. Yes, she asks me; but then, so does the Lama, and the Buddha himself.  The community is one of the Three Jewels, and while the community need not be filling stadiums, small groups of people helping each other on their Path is usually better than working completely alone – unless one is a skilled practitioner preparing for the Path of the Hermit.  The Enlightened Mind asks me to host these seminars in that if we find something useful for ourselves and our well-being, it behooves us to help make it available to others, should they desire to try it out for themselves.  So who made this my 'job'?  God, Samantrabhadra, YHVH, Christ, Hermes, Krishna, Solomon, pick one, any will be just as good as the next for now.  

The fact that I should be so challenged, and the willingness of others to help so weak, is an open statement about the local Buddhist community – there is none – just a list of names on an email list, and my family hosting traveling Lamas like folks did in the good old days. 

Thus, we see that the notion of traditions is really a matter of survival of the fittest – those that adapt to their environments survive – those that do not adapt die.  End of story. How that adaptation takes place is wide and varying.  It would be easy to think that the adaptation takes place from the top but that is incorrect and often the last place that demonstrates insight and innovation.  No, we see the establishment of familial lines and traditions, local practices, and individuals picking up the pieces and making something come of it.  For example, I know of one individual who does not consider himself “Buddhist”, but has over two dozen empowerments (initiations), extensive written and oral teachings – including the much-valued Six Yogas of Naropa and Dzogchen.  If, and that is only IF, there were students, but no available teachers, (or easily available because of political or economic instability), he has stated that he would undertake the process of transmission to ensure that the lineage survives.  He has no authority to do so other than the spoken words of the Buddha to support the Teacher, the Teachings, and the Community of Practitioners.  How that is to be done varies with the conditions and circumstances of each practitioner.  I know of several others within Freemasonic, Rosicrucian, and Martinist movements who have stated the same.

Now, while this heroic view of lineage survival is nice, it is essentially like throwing seeds to the wind and hoping something sprouts.  It is far better to have small (12 to 50 members), effective groups, that can work well together as well as independently, rather than a kind of “apocalyptic death-bed transmission”, as is more often the case in these movements than we would like to admit.

While we like to talk about Light, Life, Love, (Liberty and Law); The Law is for All; or Fraternity, Liberty, and Egalitarianism in modern esotericism, the truth is only the strong survive.  Out of the entire population only about 5% are interested in these topics, and they are scattered among the various socio-economic classes, although they appear to be most concentrated in what is called the 'middle class'.  Those in the upper classes are too busy running things, and those in the lower are too busy trying to survive, so it is the increasingly vanishing middle class that offers sufficient wealth and spare time to undertake these studies and practices. 

Now some have taken offence to this number, but Colin Wilson in his various writings, such as his best-seller The Occult, and again in Frankenstein's Castle, illustrates the point.  There may very well be a statistical limit on how many people are actively engaged in esoteric practices – and that means practices of all sorts.  While it is nice to think that we can return to a mythical Golden Age wherein 95% of the people are involved in spiritual practices, we often forget that in those myths the number of humans was exceedingly small...

In the end, we can only save ourselves. We must do this first and foremost if we are to be of genuine service to others.  We must continue to push on, to redouble our efforts in the face of adversity, and yet we must have enough wisdom to know when to not 'throw pearls before swine' and to remove the 'dust from our feet' and move on.   It is a difficult call, and one that we can only make for ourselves.  For myself, I believe that we are about to reach the end of the line of widely open, public, and reliable esoteric teachings.  I believe that we are shifting into a period wherein esoteric practices are moving back into the shadows, back underground, into The Silence.  This is not out of fear or because of persecution, but because few people care.  When things are too easy, they are not valued. This is particularly true when they are too easy to begin with; people leave when they get hard. System jumping – something common in modern spirituality –  is an avoidance of the uncomfortable pressure of success along a particular path, and a way of diffusing the pressure, rather than working through it; it is guaranteed failure under the guise of open-mindedness, or eclecticism.  Only by reinstating the traditional requirements of selectivity in who is taught and significant commitment of time, talent, and resources on the part of the students – even danger, real danger in initiations – will esoteric practices be able to survive in a meaningful state.  Otherwise, they will simply continue to act like Air and Water and disappear when night falls, because there was never enough Fire and Earth to enliven and sustain them.  

Thus, it is up to each of us to examine our esoteric commitments, our organizations, and be honest with ourselves about what we are building for the future and how we are to achieve that goal.  In the end, if we believe in reincarnation, tradition is the gift we leave ourselves in the form of a future generation.  What does your gift look like? What are you leaving for yourself to find again in the future?