The First Degree
The Qabalah is the foundation of the Western
Mystery Tradition, just as the Yoga Sutras, the Upanishads, the
Bhagavad Gita, and other holy works are the foundations of the
Eastern Tradition. In its entirety, the Qabalah is the great body
of philosophy to be found in the religion texts of the Jews; including
the Old Testament of the Bible, particularly the Pentateuch. It
can also be seen in the vast complex of astrological, alchemical
and occult symbology that has come down to us, as well as in the
Rosicrucian and Masonic myth - including the Tarot, which is indigenous
to the West.
According to tradition, the Qabalah is the revelation
of God given to man in early times through the mediation of the
Archangel most near to God - Metatron. Originally, it was considered
so holy that it was reserved as an oral tradition, hence the name
Qabalah, which means "mouth to ear". However, from the
twelfth century, part of it was written down, and became available
to us through the translations of men like Picus de Mirandola,
Knorr von Rosenroth and Cornelius Agrippa.
The tradition remained more or less secret owing
to persecution of its adherents by the Christian Church and -
later - owing to the derision and disinterest accorded to it by
materialistic science and thought. Because of this enforced underground
existence, the tradition of the West compares badly with that
of the East when it comes to documentation of its sacred wisdom.
Little was written comparatively and what was written stood a
very good chance of being destroyed. Today we see the results
of this in that many students of the occult derive their learning
and inspiration from Eastern sources - mainly brought to the West
through the efforts of Madame Blavatsky. Valuable as this line
of tradition is, we feel that many Western Students would derive
more satisfaction in being given the opportunity to study their
The Tree of Life
the entire wisdom of the Qabalah is contained in one simple yet
unique and marvellous diagram known as ETZ CHAIM, the Tree of
Life. Simple, yes. But this glyph has been described as "the
Mighty, All-Embracing Glyph of the Soul of Man and the Universe."
Without this composite symbol, it is probable that the Western
Tradition would have been entirely destroyed. Owing to its simplicity,
however, the glyph is easily committed to memory; and because
of its profundity, from this sparse simplicity can be derived
a complete and satisfying philosophy and knowledge of life in
both its inner and outer aspects.
The Tree of Life can be likened to a card-index
system, in which we can file not only data gained from our conscious
sense perception of the physical world, but also data obtained
by various means from the inner levels - be it subjective or objective.
The latter is mainly discerned by way of dreams, psycho-analytical
techniques, psychic experiences and so on.
The techniques of occultism are used to open
up an awareness of such psychic experiences in a way that is natural,
controlled and systematic. The way to retain one's bearings during
such expansions of consciousness is to use a universal chart or
map of all manifested existence - such a map is the Tree of Life.
Training in the Mysteries
As with all learning, in occultism the ideal
form of tuition is the close personal supervision by a master
craftsman of an apprentice or pupil, either as an individual pupil
or within the structure of a group or school. Owing to the inner
nature of things, a group can be doubly helpful; for a pool of
inner awareness or a Group Mind can be formed, which may be tapped
by the individual - any group being potentially more than the
sum total of its parts.
However, a good group is hard to find and a spurious
or badly run group is worse than no group at all. Also, because
of the diversity of human nature, it may well be that a well-run
group is not always suitable for all types of applicants. There
may also be reasons of geography or physical circumstance that
may well make participation of an otherwise ideal group impractical.
So, for many, the only answer is a Correspondence
School - providing it is properly and responsibly run. It is a
substitute, just as any correspondence course for any other skill
is a substitute for the traditional apprenticeship; but if the
student will work hard and stick to the self-discipline required
considerable progress can be made. Indeed, the fact that it is
a harder way of learning may well produce a better pupil in the
end. For in the end it is the determination, persistence and innate
ability of the student which determines the measure of success,
and the opening up of further opportunities.
This Course is a practical one. It starts the
student on practical work right away. Thus the student has some
personal experience of what he is learning about when he reaches
the more theoretical work on the Tree. In this way, a student
more easily overcomes the barrier of knowledge of the Tree, the
finding of the "way in" to its mysteries.
It is such a self-contained system that none
of its parts can be understood without taking into account the
relationship with all the other parts. This can produce difficulties
in knowing where to start. A little personal experience in the
beginning overcomes this.
This School wishes to avoid the purely theoretical
student. The Qabalah is a practical system and cannot be fully
understood without personal experience of its praxis. So this
course is not to be considered a mere academic system of study
All levels of the student's being is involved - not just the intellect.
This is carried right through the curriculum and through all the
degrees that can be taken. At all times practice, as well as theory,
The initial textbook used is The Art of True
Healing by Israel Regardie - a former member of The Hermetic Order
of the Golden Dawn. Dr. Regardie has written many books on occult
subjects; but The Art of True Healing is the quintessence of all
his Qabalistic knowledge. It gives a basic and simplified picture
of Qabalistic philosophy.
The Art of True Healing serves as a text book
for the first six lessons. After this, you will need the two volumes
(one volume in the Weiser Edition) of Gareth Knight's Practical
Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism, which will take you not only through
the rest of the course, but will also act as a reference book
for many years of study. Although they are not text-books as such,
we also advise our students to read J. Campbell's book The Hero
with a Thousand Faces - which assists in understanding the importance
of myth in the occult - and Magic for the Aquarian Age by Marian
Green, which is a very good basic book for new students. In addition,
the Director of Studies, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, has written
several books with SOL students particularly in mind. Among these
are: First Steps in Ritual and The Shining Paths.
An outline of the First
Degree Course may therefore be seen like this:
||Prel. Lesson 1-6
||The Art of True Healing (Israel Regardie)
||W E Butler
||A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism
You will find with this introduction a list
of books - both fiction and non-fiction, that we feel are of particular
help with the understanding of the occult in all its aspects.
Students are advised, if possible, to choose their evening reading
from this list. You are also advised to make yourself familiar
with the Arthurian cycle of legend, and with the mythology of
the Celts. Any mythological knowledge you acquire will not be
wasted. The ability to cross-index the legends and god forms can
be of immense value in the understanding of the ancient past.
All can be applied to the Tree of Life, and thus maintained in
the memory without undue strain.
A Lesson on the Tree of
It may help at this early stage of your training
to build a replica of the Tree of Life, taking it step by step,
and basing it as far as possible on everyday experiences. The
sooner you make yourself familiar with the shape and the technique
of drawing it, the better. Alan Richardson's little book An Introduction
to the Mystical Qabalah, can be of great assistance. Now, we are
about to embark on a study of occult science, by which we mean:
that which is hidden behind the veil of physical existence. So,
take a piece of paper and a pencil and draw a circle at the bottom
of the paper to represent physical existence - not only of the
body, but of the planet, and all that is on it, and beyond it
to include the entire universe.
At the top of the paper, draw another circle.
This represents the Godhead, the unknown inner source from which
all else issues. This is the Essential Self of the human being,
the God of our physical existence. We now have two reference points,
the physical existence, and the spiritual source. Our task now
is to fill in the space between - which in effect is the inner
universe known to us through occult tradition and mystical observation.
We start from the bottom circle of physical existence
which is the natural focus and conditioning power of the consciousness
of man. Obviously, we are more than just a body; we have minds
and emotions. The analysing power of the mind and the driving
force of the emotions act as complimentary forces within our psyches;
so draw circles to represent them, one on each side of the lower
circle, but about a third of the way up the page. That on the
left represents the mind, the one on the right the emotions. (They
also represent a whole complex of other things, but for now we
will keep to the basics).
Nowadays, almost everyone is aware that we have
a conscious mind and a subconscious mind which also acts as the
seat of the instincts and the automatic nervous system. This we
represent as another circle situated above the bottom circle but
between and slightly lower than those of the mind and the emotions.
There is a third aspect of mind which occultists
know as the super- consciousness, This is the place of the conscience,
the "religious instinct" and the point of all that is
best in us. The circle for this is placed centrally above those
of the mind and the emotions - the same distance above them as
the circle of the subconscious is below them. We should now have
a diagram looking something like this:
now move into areas where we have no direct experience. The last
circle, situated midway between the highest and the lowest circles,
is a very important one. It is the balancing point in more ways
than one of the glyph we are building. When we have finished our
mortal lives, it absorbs the essence of all our experiences before
sending out another projection of itself into another physical
incarnation. Therefore, this centre of higher consciousness within
us - for remember, this glyph symbolises man - builds up in evolutionary
time a vast mass of human experience in essence. It is the central
focus of the Higher Self as opposed to the Lower Self, symbolised
by the four lower circles (and for "lower" do not read
"bad"). The Lower Self lasts for a human lifetime, the
body dispersing at death, the consciousness rather later, after
experiencing the lower Astral Worlds, but the Higher Self lasts
for a whole evolution.
We now enter two more circles on our glyph, one
on each side, above the central circle. Now we are dealing with
abstract principles rather than mentation and emotion. We can
see the right hand circle as the constructive metabolic principle
behind life, and the left hand circle as the dispersing catabolic
principle. They must not be seen as "good" and "evil"
but as "positive" and "negative", "male"
and "female" - each complementing the other.
Now we draw a line above these last two circles.
This represents a complete change of dimension We are moving into
"Eternity". This line is traditionally known as THE
ABYSS, though there is a narrow bridge across it, usually drawn
as a dotted circle, and known to all Qabalists as Da'ath, which
We know very little of the state of things across
the Abyss, except to surmise that - like that which is below the
Abyss - things are based on the Triad. So we place two more circles
on each side - a little above the Abyss, but below the topmost
circle. This is the THREE IN ONE Godhead; although the allocation
of Persons is not the same in this context as it is in the Christian
Trinity. But we will not venture too far into speculative theology.
It is enough for the moment to look upon the three top circles
as being: on the right, the ALL-FATHER; on the left, the ALL-MOTHER,
and above and between them, the FOUNT OF CREATION.
For identification purposes, we can now number
the circles, starting from the top and moving downwards in a zig-zag
fashion, like a lightning flash, like this:
If you have drawn a circle across the line to
represent Da'ath, note that it is not numbered.
Each of these circles is known technically as
a Sephirah, plural Sephiroth, meaning "Emanation(s)"
All have names and titles and a great many symbolic attributes.
All are ways that can lead us in and out of the maze of the inner
worlds, rather like Ariadne's thread led Theseus through the Labyrinth
of the Minotaur.
The pattern you have just drawn is the basic
key concept to each Sephirah based on the psychological make-up
of man. But there are also objective as well as subjective, correspondences
to the Sephiroth. For instance, we said at the beginning that
the tenth Sephirah symbolises not only the physical body of man,
but the entire physical universe. The same applies to the higher
Sephiroth. There is also an objective lower Astral World corresponding
to the personal subconscious which is opened up with such drastic
consequences in drug addiction. It is a world of suppressed fantasies
and dreams, and comes under the ninth Sephirah.
Now we proceed up the Tree, and there is a higher
Astral World that correlates with the seventh and eighth spheres;
then worlds of existence on even higher levels, and different
types of "pure being" which have been recorded by the
mystics of many denominations - all of which correspond with the
Sephiroth until the supreme "Union with Godhead" of
Sephirah 1 is reached.
The Aims of the First
In the First Degree Main Course, it is the aim
of the SOL to open up access to these worlds in full conscious
control. The Tree of Life is only one of many blueprints for doing
this. It is the basic training upon which all your future occult
work and study will rest. Without the stability of such training,
the higher - sometimes more exciting, if one can apply that word
to occult study - work cannot be successful. With determination
and hard work it can lead to initiation - though different people
mean different things by that much misused word.
Providing they possess the underlying ability
and aptitude for the work, those taking this course will obtain
a progress and advantage comparable to anyone working in a physical
lodge under the personal guidance of its Magus. The whole purpose
of the SOL; the reason for its founding, is to cater for those
who are - for many reasons - unable to take the closer tuition
from a Master Craftsman. But, since its founding, the School has
grown and has expanded on its original ideas. Now we provide an
opportunity - at least once a year - for students and their tutors
to meet and talk. The future may bring more such opportunities.
In the First Degree Main Course, we work with
the symbolism of the Arthurian Round Table; and aim to produce
an association of well-trained men and women who are capable of
making progress and acting on their own initiative in the performance
of practical occultism, once they have completed the course. Those
who know a little of this kind of work know that there is always
an inner and higher aspect of a genuine mystery school. It works
from a level that transcends the physical and filters down through
a natural Hierarchy. There are initiations that we undergo by
virtue of our own merit and hard work that are quite irrespective
of any ceremonial you may go through in a lodge. Since its inception,
the SOL has progressed to a point where it has begun to work along
deeper lines than before; and this means that new insights and
new opportunities are becoming increasingly available to our students.
This happens to all truly "contacted" schools and groups.
By contacted, we mean those schools that are in close psychic
touch with the overshadowing Hierarchy on the Inner Planes. It
is in this Inner Group that the real power resides; and from there
it is mediated in various ways to its counterpart on the physical
level. The SOL is so contacted, and its inner powers are slowly
becoming available to those who come within its sphere of influence.
If the quality of work and its application have
been up to the standard required, sometime during their Fellowship
a Fellow will be offered Initiation. The criterion will not be
how many lessons have been done, but the kind of person they show
themselves to be and the quality of their work. This decision
will be made by the Director of Studies alone. On Initiation the
Fellow will give up the golden cord and will be given a scarlet
one in its place.
Remember this: tradition says
that it takes three lives to become an Initiate; if it is not
offered to you it does not mean you are not worthy, but that you
still have some way to go in your apprenticeship, and there are
many ways in which you can still be of great help and service
Our Aims and Ideals
We are often asked to define our aims and ideals.
This is as it should be, for no one should enter a school of occult
training without satisfying themselves that it is of sound character
and built on a strong and ethical foundation.
Our aim is to play a part in the giving out of
the Western Mystery Training. For too long now the Western Tradition
has trailed behind, and has come close to losing its own Sacred
Way altogether. Now, public opinion has eased, and there is an
urgent need for seekers of all ages to resume the Quest of the
Grail. The need for sound esoteric training is more urgent than
it has ever been.
We do not claim, as others do, that the occult
way holds all the answers to the world's ills; but we do claim
that it has a part to play in the eventual victory over them.
We believe, sincerely, that the ancient traditions hold a timeless
key which may be applied to modern life and its problems. We aim
to train dedicated men and women who will help others to achieve
the inner serenity that is their birthright.
Today's occultist is no longer merely a robed
and mysterious figure - though both the robes and the mystery
may at times be employed in ritual - but one who strives to use
all those wonderful and mysterious powers that belong to man by
right. Powers that have lain dormant for centuries, and which
are being re-discovered by occultists and scientists alike.
To teach, that is our aim. To teach well, and
with love. To teach what we have been taught; and in that teaching,
to form close knit bonds that will bring all faiths and traditions
into one united Brotherhood. The SOL is pendant to the ancient
School of Alexandria, where all faiths and beliefs were welcomed,
and their knowledge shared. We do not teach any faith or religion,
or exalt any one above another. Though we teach the Western Way,
we do not oppose that of the East; but look upon it as one of
the many bright strands of faith that make up the Divine Pattern.
If we stress the Western Way, it is because we
believe it is more suited to the Western way of life and thinking.
The lessons we offer are designed to affect the deeper levels
of the mind, and this can be trying in the first stages; but everything
is tuned to develop and train the latent powers of the mind. But
it does not happen overnight; or even in a few weeks. It takes
years to train a magician.
This kind of teaching places a great responsibility
on those who do the actual teaching. It is not generally known
that a teacher accepts - in some part - responsibility if the
student takes the wrong path; or misuses newly opened power lines.
Yet there is always someone willing to teach, knowing that the
only reward is to train someone to be greater and better than
oneself in the ancient ways of the Mysteries.
We do not impose our will on a student. We expect
them to form their own judgements; to ask questions, and to develop
a responsible attitude toward their studies. We cannot do the
work for you; you must want to do it. We will, however, help whenever
and however we can. All our tutors have been students themselves,
and know the difficulties that can arise.
Our Ideals are simple - to offer the best we
can to those who wish to learn; to reach as far and as high as
we can in search of Truth. To be true to ourselves; our teachings;
and to those who guide us. To train without favour all who come,
regardless of race, creed or colour.
We do not claim to develop psychic powers in
all our students, some have a natural talent and it takes little
to bring their powers to the surface. Others find it a long and
tedious path. We hope to train well-balanced knowledgeable people
with characters stabilised by Qabalistic methods. The course is
long, and strenuous, but those who finish it will have achieved
something really worthwhile.
In some students, psychism is so close to the
surface that it opens up within a few months. This has caused
some panic in the past. Many come hoping for such things; but
when it happens they head for the hills! There is nothing to fear.
You are within the protection of the School Egregore. In any event,
courage is one of the many things you need when training in the
Mysteries. It is one thing to knock at the door. When the door
opens - that is the time for decisions.
The Structure of the
Like the Mystery Schools of ancient times, and
the great Egyptian School to which it is affiliated on the Inner
Levels, the SOL is a three-level structure. The name Servants
of the Light encompasses both the first degree course, and our
links with the world at large. It is the name by we are known,
and under which we advertise. It is a level complete unto itself,
and a student may choose to end his or her studies with the last
As soon as a new student is accepted that person
will become an Entered Novice and will remain so until the 12th
lesson. By then we will have a good idea of the student's ability
in the work and if they are likely to stay the full course. When
the 12th lesson is received, and if the supervisor's report is
favourable, then the Novice will be notified that he or she is
now working within the First Degree of the School, and therefore
drops the style of Novice and becomes a Fellow within the Fellowship
of the SOL (The First Degree). If the supervisor's report is otherwise,
then a further six months of work will be required and the standard
of work improved before admission into the Fellowship is granted.
This is to ensure that the highest standards possible are achieved
by SOL students. It is hoped this will also act as a spur against
the old problem of inertia.
The First Degree will extend right through the
First Degree Correspondence Course, and certain conditions will
apply. If a Fellow intends to go through into the Second Degree,
then he must attend the series of three Practical Workshops in
Ritual Magic. The same group attends right through the series
with one meeting every six months, going through the Beginners,
Intermediate and Advanced courses within a 12-month period.
All Fellows attending practical work seminars/group
work etc. will be required to wear a simple black robe, preferrably
hooded. Novices wear a white cord round the waist, Fellows a golden
cord. A small insignium incorporating the Bee from the SOL logo
will be worn on the robes over the left breast. These will be
obtainable from Jersey.
If a Fellow does not wish to go through to the
higher Degrees, there is no compulsion to do so, and therefore
he or she will not have to attend the Practical Workshops. If
no group work is intended there will obviously be no need for
a robe. For each of the three main workshops attended a Fellow
will be given a blue wooden bead to slip onto his cord. This means
that at a glance it may be seen who is a Novice (black robe, plain
white cord), a Fellow (black robe, golden cord) and who has attended
or is attending the Practical Workshops (black robe, cord with
one, two or three blue beads).
All we have placed before you here may be achieved
by hard work, determination and self-discipline. If we feel you
have no application for the work, we will tell you so honestly.
If, however, you are willing to try, we will give you every assistance.
Slowness in assimilating new ideas is no problem - better that
than too fast. A student makes his own pace, and we accept this...
with an occasional push!
You are never too old. Our oldest member is now
81. Though our lowest age limit is 18, we will in some circumstances
accept students at 16 always provided that we have their parent's
approval in writing.
Our Attitude to Drugs
We have been asked to define our approach to
drugs. No matter what the experimentalists say, we regard the
taking of drugs as dangerous in the extreme. Combined with occult
training, even more so. We will not consider the application of
anyone taking hallucinogenic drugs (although, of course, this
does not include diabetics, and people like them). It is drugs
taken for so called "pleasure" that are dangerous. Drugs
and Magic do not mix!
Please take your time in reading this Introduction
to the SOL We want you to be quite sure that we are the School
you are looking for before you commit yourself. We will be pleased
to answer any questions you may have; and can recommend other
Schools if you wish to look further.