Alan Bain’s Thirty Two Paths of Wisdom

In the Kabbalah, the Thirty Two Paths of Wisdom are usually understood to be the ten sephiroth and the 22 paths between them on the Tree of Life diagram. However, there are different interpretations, and this article outlines the scheme developed by Alan Bain in his book The Keys to Kabbalah.

The Thirty Two Paths

The Sepher Yetzirah, one of the primary texts of the Kabbalah, opens with a reference to “Thirty two miraculous paths of Wisdom” which by implication are the ten sephiroth and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, although there is no direct reference in the rest of the text.

There is however an appendix found on some manuscripts of the Sepher Yetzirah, which explicitly describes the thirty two paths as a series of different types of ‘intelligences’ – for example, the Tenth Path is called the Resplendent Intelligence. This appendix is believed to date from the 17th Century, compared to a much earlier date (perhaps 200 C.E.) for the Sepher Yetzirah itself [1].

The Extended Tree

The extended tree (also called Jacob’s ladder) is an interlocking form of the Tree of Life where trees in the four worlds are shown as overlapping, so that for example the tree in the world of formation, Yetzirah, has its base in the sephira Tiphereth in the material world of Assiah. The extended tree was first publicly presented in Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi’s books published in the early 1970s.


Showing how the tree in each of the four worlds overlap to make the extended tree.

Alan Bain’s Arrangement of the Thirty Two Paths

Alan links the first three paths of wisdom to the veils of negative existence: Ain, Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur. The remaining 28 paths are linked to the sephiroth on the extended tree in the order of the descending lightning flash, as illustrated in the diagram below:



To take an example: the 16th path, which is described as “The Triumphant and Eternal Intelligence. The delight of glory. The paradise of pleasure prepared for the just,” corresponds to the sephira which is at once:

Malkuth of Atziluth (the base of the divine world)

Tiphareth of Briah (the heart of the creative world), and

Kether of Yetzirah (the crown of the world of formation).

The full list is given below [3].

Greater Sephiroth

In addition to this arrangement of the 32 paths, Alan also treated the sephiroth on the central pillar as centres of ‘greater sephiroth’. These are shown as circles on the extended tree diagram above. So for example, the 16th path is at the centre of the greater sephira of Geburah, which also incorporates paths 13, 14, 15, 17 18 and 19.

The full list of greater sephiroth is given below [2].


[1] The Thirty Two Paths of Wisdom seem to originate as an appendix to a Hebrew version of the Sepher Yetzirah by Joannes Stephanus Rittangelius in 1642. William  Wynn Wescott’s translation is here:, but Alan Bain used A E Waite’s translation given in his book The Holy Kabbalah.

[2] The full list of the Greater Sephiroth is as follows:

Path Greater Sephira
4 Kether
7 ‘Hokma
10 Binah
13 ‘Hesed
16 Geburah
19 Tiphareth
22 Netzatch
25 Hod
28 Yesod
31 Malkuth

[3] The full list of the 32 paths is as follows:

Path Intelligence Location
1 Admirable Intelligence Ain
2 Illuminating Intelligence Ain Soph
3 Sanctifying Intelligence Ain Soph Aur
4 Arresting or Receiving Intelligence Kether in Atziluth
5 Radical Intelligence ‘Hokma in Atziluth
6 Mediating Intelligence Binah in Atziluth
7 Hidden Intelligence Daath in Atziluth
8 Perfect and Absolute Intelligence ‘Hesed in Atziluth
9 Purified Intelligence Geburah in Atziluth
10 Resplendent Intelligence Tiphareth in Atziluth, Kether in Briah
11 Fiery Intelligence Netzach in Atziluth,
‘Hokma in Briah
12 Intelligence  of Light Hod in Atziluth,
Binah in Briah
13 Inductive Intelligence Yesod in Atziluth,
Daath in Briah
14 Instituting Intelligence ‘Hesed in Briah
15 Constituting Intelligence Geburah in Briah
16 Triumphant and Eternal Intelligence Malkuth in Atziluth,  Tiphareth in Briah,
Kether in Yetzirah
17 Disposing Intelligence Netzach in Briah,
‘Hokma in Yetzirah
18 Intelligence of the House of Influence Hod in Briah,
Binah in Yetzirah
19 Secret Intelligence Yesod in Briah,
Daath Yetzirah
20 Intelligence of Will ‘Hesed in Yetzirah
21 Rewarding Intelligence Geburah in Yetzirah
22 Faithful Intelligence Malkuth in Briah,
Tiphareth in Yetzirah,
Kether in Assiah
23 Stable Intelligence Netzatch in Yetzirah, ‘Hokma in Assiah
24 Imaginative Intelligence Hod in Yetzirah,
Geburah in Assiah
25 Intelligence  of Temptation or Trial Yesod in Yetzirah,
Daath in Assiah
26 Renewing Intelligence ‘Hesed in Assiah
27 Natural Intelligence Geburah in Assiah
28 Active Intelligence Malkuth in Yetzirah, Tiphareth in Assiah
29 Corporeal Intelligence Netzach in Assiah
30 Collective Intelligence Hod in Assiah
31 Perpetual Intelligence Yesod in Assiah
32 Assisting Intelligence Malkuth in Assiah
Posted in Alan Bain | 1 Comment

The Society of the Hidden Life

This is a memoir of work in Tony Potter’s group, written by the painter John Pearce.

by John Pearce


I first met Tony in 1964 or 65. Group meetings were held at his flat in Claremont Road, Highgate. The Group was called ’The Society of the Hidden Life’, and dedicated to ‘The Work’. The weekly lessons were read from a text called ’The Society Course’, which introduced the ‘stop’ exercise and self-observation in terms of four principles: Reflex, Instinct, Thinking and Feeling, and the ‘Paths’ which linked them. A fifth principle, ’Harmony’ was mentioned as an integrating centre acting on a higher level.


Portrait of Tony Potter by John Pearce

One was given a specific exercise to be practised ‘during the week’. Each of the principles and paths had positive and negative characteristics, and progress was made by stopping, identifying the principles at work in a given situation and discriminating between positive and negative action.

When working on the paths we kept notes of exercises and observations, which were duly handed to Tony. After each lesson the class repaired to the saloon bar of The Red Lion and Sun in Highgate Village, where the group mingled socially and theory was put into practice, with the benefit of Tony’s proximity and influence. At weekends The Group, en-mass, arrived at a local party, clutching large (2litre?) cans of Charington’s, and the undercover work of stops continued, presumably to the incalculable benefit of humankind.

After 12 lessons the text of the Society Course was put aside in favour of an ad-libbed sequence of lessons, in which Tony unfolded the Cabalistic background to The Work, and the ‘principles’ were seen to correspond to sephiroth on the Tree of Life. The notion of ‘going through the veil’ in the central sephira of Tiphareth, (corresponding to ‘Harmony’ in the society course) was introduced as being a critical point in one’s awakening. It was death and rebirth and loss of ego – or rather a reconstruction of the relation between ego and Self.

Similarities were drawn between other teachings, particularly those of Carl Gustav Jung and The Work. Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, ’Subud’, and even Scientology, were more likely to be mentioned in the Pub than in the context of class meetings, but some members of the group had experience of them or read about them. Potter rather discouraged reading, beyond certain recommendations – these included Dion Fortune’s ‘Mystical Qabalah’, and Jung – in favour of first-hand experience.

Western civilisation was portrayed as stuck in the principle of thinking, and needed to balance it with feeling. The path between these two principles (Hod and Netzach) was called the Path of Mars and symbolised by the Tarot card The Tower. No civilisation had managed to traverse this path, and few individuals did so, and it would take great honesty, courage and unselfishness, but Tony seemed optimistic that it could and would be achieved, given the insights of Jung and others.

Crossing the Path of Mars, balancing the left and right, female and male pillars of the tree was significant in all conflicts, and also in relations between man and woman, and was an essential step on the way to Tiphareth, or Harmony, beyond the veil.

The Work now continued in terms of the Tree. The paths and sephiroth were explored in waking dream exercises which had to be meticulously written down. Apart from its value as a record to be read by Tony, this was also a safety device in bringing the attention down to earth. ‘Earthing’ was always considered important.

As time went on the Hebrew alphabet, numerology, gematria & notaricon, colour schemes, musical sounds, astrology and the Tarot were introduced and related to the tree consistently with the Golden Dawn system, and some of us equipped ourselves with copies of Aleister Crowley’s 777 and read books by Israel Regardie et al.


Stopping and looking meant awareness of thinking, the ability to suspend and even dispense with thinking, and to see reality in terms of a truer, non-rationalised order. Explanations, reasons, identifying and naming, were all the work of the ego. (I wonder, looking back, whether there was actually very much real understanding of ‘feeling’ although the negative aspects, such as self-pity, were recognised and rightly forbidden.)

The very first essential step on the road to Tiphareth, was the individual becoming as independent and economically self-sufficient as possible, and that meant leaving home and mother, and was part of being ‘earthed’. One’s material life was said to be an indication of progress in the work, and Potter respected competence. What happened to you was held to be a reflection of yourself: ‘Attitude attracts environment’. But, while it encouraged one to take responsibility, this attitude sometimes led to people being unfairly judged in the light of their illnesses and misfortunes. Potter himself once spectacularly fell down a flight of stairs at a party. When criticised for this, he replied that there had been a malignant energy present in the atmosphere which his fall had ’earthed’.

Tony once described magic as the ability to operate with and to control subjective states. An example might be the ability to deliberately not think about something, or to think of a cat without thinking of the word ‘cat’. To take the first step in one’s psyche away from mechanical inertia was virtually impossible on one’s own, for the simple reason that to desire movement was avarice, and thus the vice of the first path, the path of Saturn. One needed esoteric help which could only come by way of an adept acting from Binah – a ‘Master of the Temple’ in Golden Dawn language, able to operate objectively in terms of the neophyte’s subjective experience.

That is explained, technically, by the fact that the paths refer to subjective experience while the principles, or sephiroth are objective, and that the principles above the veil are reflected in the paths below, and vice-versa. This is borne out in the Golden Dawn astrological attributions, so that Binah and the 32nd (1st) path are both signified by Saturn. Thus with help from the silence and stillness of Binah, the first step on the path could be taken with the purest of motives, or none at all, and it possibly explains why the ‘stop’ is really the be-all-and-end-all of The Work.

‘Ascending the tree’ was implicitly growth in consciousness, but the critical, and dangerous, point in Tiphareth is the ‘flipping’ of object and subject, conscious and unconscious, and experience of a state where ‘you are everything, everything is you’.

The Work has been of great value and influenced me. Paradoxically I remember Tony as somewhat conservative and conventional as well as rare and extraordinary. His effect has been incalculable.

John Pearce December 2015

Posted in Tony Potter | 2 Comments

Stop Exercise

This article was originally published as the Exercise of the Month in the first issue of the Pentacle Journal, published in June 1985, edited by Tony Potter. It describes his approach to the ‘Stop’ exercise.

If we take even a cursory look at present-day society, it is clear that there is a restlessness, a turbulence which is not entirely due to the fact that, as it ever was, “the other man’s grass is greener”. Nor is this restlessness the sign of productive activity which it is often mistakenly taken to be.

It can be noticed, for example, that a large proportion of society responds to changes in their environment purely reflexively. Simply look around on a bus or a train and notice the number of people who are fidgeting, scratching, making unnecessary movements and generally behaving in a way which can only lead one to suppose that they are not in any way aware of what they are doing.

This much is fairly easy to notice in others; it is, however, nothing like so simple to spot in ourselves. For this reason, the next time you are in an environment which includes a large number of people, take note of this reflex movement and, at the same time and more importantly, notice your own posture and movements. What are your feet doing? Are you unconsciously tapping a toe or biting your nails? Are you scratching when you do not itch? Is your mind focused on the immediate moment or are you attempting to relive a past event which cannot be changed?

If you notice yourself doing any of these things, just try to envisage how much energy, and hence how much of your life, is being wasted on activity which is totally unproductive, and then STOP. It is precisely this unproductive effort which is symptomatic of the reflex state we see around us. Another such symptom is that of movement in a circle. Everyone is familiar with the way in which the mind, when occupied with a specific, worrying problem, moves round and round, being drawn to the same conclusions (often even more worrying than the problem) without any constructive end point being reached. Most people are also familiar with the organic symptoms which run in parallel with this state. The same physical actions are repeated over and over again (e.g., nail-biting, toe-tapping) which can, and sometimes do, lead to a purely pathological condition such as a nervous breakdown, loss of hair, nervous rashes, etc.

As mentioned, the way in which to avoid this unnecessary and unproductive loss of energy is to STOP at every available opportunity. By this is not meant a frantic screeching to a halt, but a gentle, controlled flow to a standstill. This is obviously easier to achieve, at first, when the body is relaxed. The mind can then be allowed to empty. Unfortunately, it is in these circumstances that the least advantage is gained. The greatest effect is achieved when one STOPs in the midst of an otherwise turbulent situation. This STOP only needs to be momentary. If it is done correctly, the depth of the effect is quite unexpected and, the first time it is experienced, somewhat startling. Indeed, it has been written:-

If, in the midst of troubled time, we stand aside,
And wait until the seeming storm subside,
We stand, though unawares, upon a hallowed ground,
For we have found,

This may sound a little melodramatic, but it is in fact, an explicit description of a properly executed STOP. It has the effect of removing one completely from the limitations of time and space and enabling one to observe the environment as a completely objective phenomenon. At the same time, since the superficial (and largely superfluous) activity of the conscious mind has been brought to a standstill, some of the activity of the uppermost levels of the unconscious mind is allowed to come into consciousness. Since the “language” of the unconscious is almost entirely symbolic, rather than explicitly concrete, the result can be very similar to a “vision”.

The effect of this process is therefore twofold. Since the constraints of time are removed, not only do one’s observations become objective, but a sense of perspective is established which cannot exist in normal circumstances. Secondly, since successive layers of the unconscious are brought to light every time a STOP is carried out, the process constitutes a highly successful method for the development of self-awareness.

As mentioned, the process is not one of applying the brakes frantically, but is very much a matter of allowing oneself gently to come to a halt, bearing in mind the fact that an unruffled, open mind is the natural state for the human psyche and that the hectic chasing of one unproductive thought after another is a pathological state which we have allowed to become our normal condition.



Posted in Tony Potter | Leave a comment

Jean Hendy Harris on Ernest Page

The author Jean Hendy Harris has written an interesting memoir of Ernest Page on her blog here.

Jean met Ernest when she was a young woman living in Soho in the 1960s.  She describes his skill as an astrologer and his sensitivity to the human condition. She says:

“A number of young women like myself, suffering varying degrees of unrequited love, lined up on Friday and Saturday evenings to ask our strikingly similar questions. Ernest was consistent in his predictions for me – the man I adored did not adore me; he advised me to leave him but knew that I would not do so. He then told me precisely when I would leave, down to the very month – February 1968.”

In her book In Disgrace With Fortune: A Chronicle of HarlotryJean talks about this period in her life (although not directly about Ernest). Jean took up the life of a show girl in 1960’s Soho, meeting people like Stephen Ward and the Kray Twins. She fell in love with a man called Vidar L’Estrange who was fascinated by the occult and deviant sex. When she became pregnant Vidar insisted that their child be aborted. Jean took drastic measures in order to preserve the baby. Vidar attempted to control her actions with threats of magic, demons and ongoing curses and finally attempted to abort the child himself. Jean was determined to outwit him, and after a harrowing period of struggle, she finally left Vidar and their son was born shortly thereafter.

Vidar L’Estrange

Vidar L’Estrange (or Gebhard-L’Estrange to give him his full name), was born in 1928. His father’s family played an important role in the history of the Theosophical Society [1] and his mother was a great-grand-daughter of the Prussian alchemist and Rosicrucian Carl Adolf von Carlowitz [2]. In later life he translated a book by Alexandra David-Néel, the Belgian-French explorer, spiritualist, Buddhist, anarchist and writer [3].

In correspondence, Jean says that she thinks that Vidar had known Ernest for some years before she met him in the early sixties.

Other Friends

Through Ernest, Jean and Vidar met Vivian Godfrey (whom Jean knew as Vivien Godfrey-White). Vivian worked with Ernest in the Aurum Solis magical order [4], and later under the name Melita Denning she co-wrote a series of books about the order. Jean recalls that she and Vidar got to know Ernest and Vivian very well and that during the winter of 1963, Ernest stayed with them from time to time. Vivian, Vidar and Ernest had a number of interests in common – Metaphysics, Magic, Philosophy, Theology – and got along like a house on fire.

Later Jean saw Vivian more often without Vidar, and she describes in her book how, in her time of trouble with Vidar, she consulted Vivian about obtaining help from the Catholic Church, since Vivian had once been a nun. Vivian introduced Jean to an exorcist at Westminster Cathedral.

In the mid 1960s Vivian introduced Jean to Olivia Robertson, the author, artist, co-founder and high priestess of the Fellowship of Isis [5]. Jean liked Olivia very much, and saw a great deal of her when she was living in London during the winter each year. Jean has left a fond memorial on her blog here.


[1] See

[2] See the acknowledgement to Vidar L’Estrange on page 77 of Christopher McIntosh’s book “The Rosy Cross Unveiled” 
“I am indebted to von Carlowitz’s great-great grandson, Mr Vidar l’Estrange, for allowing me to inspect certain of his ancestor’s papers, among which is a key to the cipher he used in his diaries.”

[3] For more on Alexandra David-Néel see
The book Vidar translated was Tibetan Tale Of Love And Magic

[4] See the Ernest Page page 



Posted in Ernest Page, London | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

About the Silence

This is an extract from a 1970 correspondence course on Witchcraft written by Colin Couchman. Colin had been involved with Gardnerian witchcraft since the early 1960s, and by 1970 he was working with Ruth Wynn Owen in her hereditary witchcraft system. He was also involved in a number of other traditions such as Gurdjieff/Ouspensky and Kabbalah. 

In a place of silence at the heart of every creature the Maker dwelleth, beyond sense, beyond thought, beyond desire.  This is the root of meditation. At the end of the Charge The Goddess, speaking through her representative, the High Priestess, points out the road within as the only way the quest can take. In the words of that Hindu writing called the Katha Upanishad:   “God made sense turn outward man therefore looks outward, not into himself. Now and again a daring soul, desiring immortality, has looked back and found himself.”

The above gives us a general direction to take but doesn’t offer much in the way of a map of the road within or of a practical method for travelling it. The first hint of such a method comes to us from the Indian Sage Patanjali who, in his yoga Sutra, likens the mind to a pool of water in the depths of which the Divine waits. The trouble, according to Patanjali, is that the surface ripples of sensations, thoughts and desires obscure our perception of the creator within. A corollary of this, which Patanjali does not mention directly, is of particular importance to the Craft. The Maker of Universes shows him or her self forth through each of his or her creatures but does so through a kind of continually shifting distorting lens which is the rippling of mind. Thus the divine quality of the love of life may show itself as the drive for security and the human rat race, the divine quality of the love of ones fellow man (or woman) may show itself as possessiveness and the divine quality of the love of God may lead to ‘holy’ war or the horrors of the Inquisition.   To offer oneself as a clear channel for divine power is the central act of much Craft Magical work. This act and the experience of the divine with which Patanjali was concerned are two sides of the same coin and both require the stilling of the mind. In addition to these somewhat exalted aims, techniques for the stilling of mind represent a purely mental method of purification, in other words of dropping the cares of the day prior to the performance of Ritual or meditation.

In the heyday of Alchemy certain persons made a precarious living by selling the putative secret of turning lead into gold: precarious because anybody sufficiently wealthy to be a suitable victim for this kind of con game was well able to exact vengeance on all but the most nimble of pseudo-alchemists. The tale is told of one of these con-men who devised the perfect out. This consisted of informing his victim that the operation would fail if at any time during it the operator thought of a hippopotamus. The removal of hippopotamus from the mind is a mighty labour as any may quickly confirm: mighty indeed is the quest for stillness.

The law governing the direction of power in Craft Magical work is as follows:-


If we turn this law upside down it will help us in our quest for silence therefore:-


This gives us the basic method which is to note everything that impinges upon awareness and deliberately switch our attention away from it.   The switch should be without effort as is normal when the attention moves from one thing to another.

Given the method, experience gives us the map. Start off in a comfortable position without major distractions. As you become aware of noises, smells and the like, flick the attention away from them.   After doing this for a while external sensations will become less obtrusive but bodily sensation rears its ugly head.   You will become aware of your heartbeat (You never heard it so loud), tummy rumbling and tickles from a remarkable number of places.  All these things should be dealt with in the same way as the outer sensations and after a while you will be filled with the rushing of many thoughts with which you do likewise.  After these have passed, desires arise and eventually, if your persistence endures that long, that silence which is the dwelling place of divinity.

Thus the map appears – as a ladder strung between the Maker of All and the outer world of the senses.

———–         THE MAKER
———–         THE SILENCE
———–         DESIRES
———–         THOUGHTS

What has just been described is the simplest form of meditation and is called ‘meditation without a seed’. Give it a fair trial and let us know how it goes.


A variation of the above method called ‘meditation with seed’ is also used – some people find this method a great deal easier because it depends on switching the attention on to a particular object (the seed) rather than just switching it away from something. To do this you just hold the seed in your mind and whenever you become aware of something else you switch the attention away from it and back onto the seed.   This process passes up the ladder just as does the first method until just the seed remains. The seed is then allowed to fade away gradually into the silence. The seed is normally cither a sound repeated over and over again in the mind or a symbol held in the minds eye. In the east the sound is known as a mantra and the symbol as a mandala or yantra. As it is the seal of our group and therefore represents an aspect of the Crafts view of the Universe we would suggest that you use the following composite symbol by picturing it in white in your minds eye:

silence symbol 2

You will possibly recognise the elements of this symbol, it is made up of an old Egyptian symbol of life enclosed within a pentacle, this latter being to the Craft what the Cross is to the Church. We would like to hear how you get on with this version too.

© Colin Couchman

Posted in Colin Couchman | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

About Joy

This is an extract from a 1970 correspondence course on Witchcraft written by Colin Couchman. Colin had been involved with Gardnerian witchcraft since the early 1960s, and by 1970 he was working with Ruth Wynn Owen in her hereditary witchcraft system. He was also involved in a number of other traditions such as Gurdjieff/Ouspensky and Kabbalah.

It can be said that the Craft is the religion of the worship of the Creator/Creatrix through His/Her creation; that is to say, as far as we are concerned, the world around us. The only really sincere way in which we can do this is to enjoy it. To see what this means we must first define a few terms as the normal English usage is insufficiently precise for our purpose.  HAPPINESS can arise in two ways, the first and by far the most common being through the satisfaction of a desire.  This we can call PLEASURE and it tends to be somewhat frowned on in certain faiths. Originally this attitude arose because the pursuit of pleasure renders a man dependent upon the satisfaction of his desires and thus less free; and also because, as man’s desires are basically self-centred, such activity tended to put men in a state of conflict with each other and with nature. A curious misconception, for which no justification can be found in any of the scriptures of any religion, arose among those who took over the outward form of certain faiths while totally ignoring the spirit behind them, namely that a face as long as a fiddle accompanied by an atmosphere of unrelieved gloom was a necessary precondition of sanctity.

It can, however, sometimes happen that, for no apparent reason, one has a “good” day and the whole world around is vibrant with happiness. In such a case, which for the sake of distinction we can call JOY, the impression one gets is that this joy is always all around just as the air is and one only has to become aware of it. The experience also carries a sense of being at one with everything else and it is neither born of desire nor does it breed desire. Thus we may express the kernel of Craft worship by means of the following equation:


It must not be thought that such a conception is peculiar to the Craft; in Hindu theology, for example, the qualities of the experience of the Highest are given as sat, chit, ananda which are usually translated as absoluteness, consciousness and bliss respectively.  Of course, if such an experience brings one to rush around crying out glad halleluiahs this may he quite natural but the outward symptom is not to be confused with worship itself.

We must now consider what means we can employ to induce such a state or rather to create conditions in which this state is liable to occur. This distinction is due to the fact that joy is not ours to command but is more in the nature of a gift.

A reasonable analogy is that if one wishes (l can’t for the life of me see why) to get struck by lightning, one can stand under trees in a thunderstorm or fly kites à la Benjamin Franklin but the results are not guaranteed as the Gods also have a say in the matter.

From that part of the equation which says “Joy = Oneness with Nature” we may deduce that anything that breaks down the barriers between oneself and the Universe around is conducive to this state. Taken at its most physical level this means nudity (which in many parts of the Craft is referred to as being “skyclad”). It is easy to check the validity of the assertion that nudity tends towards joy by comparing the feeling of bathing nude with that using a bathing suit and many covens (principally Gardnerian) use this technique. It must, however, be pointed out that the above principle may be applied at many levels and it is therefore by no means necessary to apply it in this way. Consequently many covens work robed. This leads to our first question in this part:

“Which way would you rather work and can you give reasons why?”

EXPLANATORY NOTE: although what parts of the course you get and in which order you get them is largely dependent on your answers to previous questions we operate within certain restrictions. In this particular instance you will already have received “About Worship” although this may not have been the immediately preceding part. (If you professed sufficient interest in formal worship you will have received “About Meetings” and “About Remembrance” and possibly a few others in between, otherwise we shall probably get around to sending these later).

We can take this business of breaking down the barriers around you up a few levels by extending the exercise you received in “About Worship” (if you have not done so already).

You will probably have noted that if you have travelled over a certain route a number of times (for instance, going to work in the morning) you can get from one place to another without having any idea of how you got there or what you saw on the way.     This is because instead of paying attention to your surroundings you have become involved in an inner world of thoughts, ideas etc. which is of your own manufacture.     This is not to say that such an inner world is bad – there is another exercise (which you may have already received) which is designed to take your attention inward and eventually these two exercises can be used as a pendulum. The idea is to bring these two worlds into balance with yourself as the control, rather than having the attention pulled willi-nilli in this direction or that. The extreme of having ones outer world outweighed by the inner is to have ones feet firmly planted in the clouds and ones head buried in the sand; and having ones inner world outweighed by the outer is to be a down-to-earth man of the world incapable of further development.

So back to the exercise: while keeping the whole body in view as has been described in “About Worship” open the attention out as far as possible to the world around you.     Let us know how you get on. If the attention wanders, don’t worry – just bring it back.     Properly done, this should inhibit thought even as far as inhibiting the labelling procedure – (when you see a table the image arrives in your consciousness with a mental label “Table” tacked on to it). – by filling the mental space normally assigned to thought with a flood of impressions. This gives the impression of seeing everything for the first time and makes everything look beautiful. When this state first “clicked” with the writer he was walking back from the Cavendish Laboratories in Cambridge to his College for supper in the very bad winter of 62/63, feeling the cold, when he thought he might try the exercise he had been given, there being nothing better to do.     After a little while everything lit up and he suddenly understood why all this snow was a beautiful thing on Christmas cards. The next thing he did was to think, “Look, I’m doing it – I’m seeing everything for the first time!” and promptly walked into a lamp post. Next time it was given to him he knew better and left well enough alone – thought, it seems, is the deadly enemy of awareness.


The next method we come across is the dance: this is used by many covens both for inducing the above state during formal worship and as a means of obtaining a state of emotional exaltation for magical work. For the latter purpose it is usually combined with a chant to give those using it the full psychological benefit of rhythm.

We must also consider the sexual act (which is recognized by the Craft as an act of worship and is known as the Great Rite.) This is obviously a road to joy and properly done as an act of worship involves each partner’s looking on the other as the incarnate God or Goddess as the case may be. (As an additional pay-off, this sort of attitude makes sexual relations far more satisfactory.) Some covens retain the Great Rite as part of their ritual, as seems to have been the case in days gone by, but most have abandoned it because the self-consciousness engendered about sex by modern society renders it impossible for most high priestesses and high priests to do it in a group as a full act of worship and they prefer their worship to be untainted.

What do you think are the reasons for and against the use of the sex act as an act of worship in the Craft and under what circumstances do you think it could be used?


Finally, here is a quotation from one of the Gardnerian Charges (in the Craft the Charge is read out at every meeting by the high priestess and is a sort of personal message from the Goddess to Her worshippers.)

“Let My worship be within the heart that rejoiceth for behold,
all acts of love and beauty are My rituals and, therefore, let
there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility, mirth and reverence within you……..”

© Colin Couchman

Posted in Colin Couchman | Tagged , | Leave a comment

T.B.O.T.P. Student Manual

The Brothers Of The Path (T.B.O.T.P.) was an International Occult Brotherhood, based in East Yorkshire in the 1930s and 40s. The “Founder-Principal” was Anthony Greville-Gascoigne. They seemed to operate mainly through a correspondence course in Britain and also around the world, and also via some local groups.

We have recently come across a copy of The Brothers Of The Path Student Manual at The Treasure House History Centre in Beverley. This post gives a brief summary of the contents of the Manual.

This edition of the Manual was published in 1941, and is over 240 pages long. The contents of the manual are as follows:

Section 1: Introduction – Our first five years

Section 2: The work of an Occult Fraternity – Methods of training

Section 3: Attaining spiritual illumination – Ordered progress – Inner Court work – Initiation – Private sanctuaries

Section 4: How T.B.O.T.P. is organised – Diagrams of organisation – A special wartime announcement

Section 5: Concerning membership – T.B.O.T.P. departments – Some advantages of membership – T.B.O.T.P. advisory bureau free services

Section 6: Services of a special nature – How about your health? – Can we help you? – Learning by Correspondence – Extracts from the constitution – Some notes on routine

Section 7: Messages of appreciation – Interesting Miscellany – Interesting notes about GHQ and staff

Section 8: Looking into the future – The Question of Federation – Extension of our Activities

The Inner Court

Section 3 contains some core information on T.B.O.T.P., discussing an ‘Inner Court’ to which students, after suitable work in the ‘Outer Courts’ may be initiated. This is the Hermetic Order known by the initials T.M.R. – “It is customary to use these initial letters, rather than the full names of the Order when reference is being made to it. The reason for this is purely psychological and not necessarily to keep the name of the Order a secret known only to its members.” (page 65 of the Manual). In fact, on page 87 the name of the order is revealed as The Order Of The Mystic Rose.

Entry to T.M.R. is via initiation after a candidate’s progress in the Outer Court is considered satisfactory. The manual says that no applications for initiation can be accepted during the war, or for a short period after. Perhaps this was because critical personnel were overseas, or maybe suitable premises for initiation were unavailable (there is a similar note on page 75, stating that the Brothers’ “most beautiful Sanctuary” is no more, and “until after the war, we are quite unable to provide another.”).

T.M.R. is said to be run by a council of six members, one of whom, the Imperator is listed as Frater A.M.D.G.


Section 4 contains some brief organisation charts for T.B.O.T.P. and photographs of some of the leading lights. The personnel mentioned tie in with other resources we have discovered:

Student Advisory Council (from page 104):

President: Dr A. Greville-Gascoigne [aka Tom Sumpton]
Vice President: Berkeley Spencer-Shaw
Secretary: S Conrad Churchill
Hon Legal Advisor: Capt. Henry Stead Roberts
Members Ex Officio: Andrew P Chetwode

Hon Members:

Miss Ursula Greville [the Soprano, posted about elsewhere]
Miss J.M.A. Mills  [aka H.K.Challoner, the author]
Dr F.I. Regardie [Israel Regardie, the author]
Commander R.W. Sumpton [brother of Anthony Greville-Gascoigne]

Posted in Anthony Greville-Gascoigne, The Brothers of the Path | Tagged , , | Leave a comment