Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The A∴A∴ is an organization whose heads have obtained by personal experience to the summit of this science. They have founded a system by which everyone can equally attain, and that with an ease and speed which was previously impossible. (Book 4, Part II)
In the A∴A∴, the blind do not lead the blind. Progress is measured by a series of grades. The theoretical and practical basis for these grades will be discussed later.
Each person is admitted by a teacher, a fellow seeker, who is at least one grade further along in the system. This person, in turn, is responsible to his or her own teacher, and so forth up the line.
“Primarily, this Body exists for the purpose of conferring Initiation. Secondarily, it prepares people for initiation by means of courses of instruction.”
(A∴A∴ Praemonstrance: A Manifesto of the Great White Brotherhood, in THE EQUINOX, Vol. III, No.1.)
The A∴A∴ is not a group system. It is a method of individual training and progress.
The aspirant learns the methods that are taught, applies them, observes the consequences of this practice, and keeps a journal of these results. In this way, each person is provided with all of the essential tools, or methods, and receives examination to ensure that he or she is proficient in their use. Each learns by experience which methods are most helpful and productive of results. Being thus prepared, the student gradually progresses in self-understanding, gradually matures in spiritual perception, and gradually awakens to THAT which first inspired the sacred quest.
“In all thy wanderings through darkness, this lamp went before thee, though thou sawest it not. It is the symbol of the light of occult wisdom, which the profane see not, neither do they know.”
(Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, 0=0 initiation ritual).
None of the instructional materials are secret, except for the actual ceremonies of initiation. All of the formal teachings are published openly. It may be that this published information is all that a given seeker needs in order to advance to the Next Step of his or her own inner development; in which case, the Order has served its purpose with respect to that individual. However, the usual method is for an aspirant to affiliate formally with the Order, gaining the benefit of personal instruction from those who have walked similar ground. One thereby becomes a new link in an unbroken chain that reaches back to the dawn of history.
In the remainder of this Introduction, we will discuss the modern history of the formation of the A∴A∴ system that we have today; the theoretical models, which frame the stages of measured progress; and how to employ this book to best effect. We encourage the reader to proceed patiently. For many in the West, it is a novel thought that spiritual awareness can be drilled and accelerated in the same fashion that a muscle can be strengthened or a golf game improved. Not many decades ago, the same would have been thought concerning mental and emotional health; yet the methods of psychotherapy, founded on increasing knowledge of human behavior, have shown otherwise. An ear trained to listen to music detects wondrous subtleties that the untrained ear misses; the same can be said of the palate trained to distinguish fine food and wine, the touch drilled to read Braille text, or the eye trained to discriminate nuance in any of a thousand areas. Perception can be refined and, as night the day, heightened awareness follows. You have to learn where to look, and to recognize what you see. The remainder is a continuous unfolding and maturation of appreciation. And, while this lengthy metaphor is not entirely descriptive of all the processes that lie before you, it does aim your attention in the right direction.
Let them that have eyes see.
Love is the law, love under will.
*Excerpted from The Mystical & Magical System of the A∴A∴ by James A. Eshelman (All rights reserved)