Please Light Passing Candles in Memory of Charles Burns

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Charles Burns who passed away in the early hours of March 30th 2019, surrounded by his family.

Charles has been part of the SOL community for many years and was dedicated to his work in the school as an initiate and Magus of SOL Lodge Taigh na Mor Riggu (House of the Great Queen) [ pronounced ‘teesch na more riggoo’ ] in the west of Scotland.

I have many good memories of times spent with Charles that were full of laughter and candour.

Rest in peace brother and we know that you will journey brightly into the Light.

Members and friends of the SOL please join with me lighting a passing candle for Charles and in prayers for his loved ones at this time.


Director of Studies, SOL.

Posted in News

SOL Light-Wise Series of Workshops Announced in Central London Beginning July 2019

SOL Light-Wise workshops are taking place in central London, beginning in July this year.
They are open to SOL students and members of the school.
Each workshop will be a stand-alone event, but there will also be continued themes repeated throughout the series.
Please email SOL admin if you are a SOL student or member who wishes to apply to attend.
It would help if you head the email: SOL London Workshops, please.
The dates are:
Saturday 6 July
Saturday 17 August
Saturday 5 October
Saturday 16 November
Saturday 7 December
Cost £15 per workshop.
11am-5pm with a 45 min lunch/refreshment break.
Posted in Messages From Steven, News

Pantaenus “The Sicilian Bee” and Themes of our New Introductory Course



Dear Friends,

The new SOL introductory course that will be made available this summer, “The Way of the Apprenticed Mage” is being prepared in alignment with the principal teachings that were communicated in the Practical Course on the Mystical Qabalah by W.E. Butler.

“The Way of the Apprenticed Mage” is not a revision or re-presentation of the Butler course, but it will be re-presenting all of the critical elements of that course.

In Lesson 44 of his course Butler wrote the following concerning the teachings of his course and our school:

“…we have instructed you along the lines of the great Arthurian Myth – The Table Round, and the Holy Grail. For the place of meeting of those who belong to the Inner Plane Group – which is the teaching and directing agency behind this Course – is the Temple of the Grail, which exists in the Inner Worlds today even as it did over two thousand years ago, when it began to develop its outer aspect in the great city of Alexandria.

The Spirit who now works through that modern personality we know as the Master of Magic, the Opener of the Ways, worked at that time through another personality who taught and mediated in those Graeco-Egyptian Mysteries. It is also of interest to note that this same city of Alexandria became the place where the first Christian Catechetical School – which attempted to expound the deeper intellectual concepts of Christianity – became established. It is also interesting to note that this city was associated with the Apostolic See of St Mark, whose Symbol is the Lion. Some of the greatest of the early Christian Fathers were linked with this School, Origen and Clement of Alexandria being two of them.

So here you have the Centre through which all that was best in the Egyptian and Grecian Mysteries was brought together and so passed into the Christian Church, and it was from the Inner Temple of the Grail that in due time there was begun that myth which, nurtured in Britain in far earlier times under other forms, and going back through the ages to a Land now lost, became the “Matter of Britain,”

I would like students and members of the school to keep the above words in mind because they represent a core aspect of what we will be teaching in the school along with the Mystical Qabalah in a Hermetic context and with reference to the wider esoteric traditions of the west.

The Inner Order from which our school is contacted is the “Alexandrian Fraternity” that Butler mentions above. Our new introductory course, “The Way of the Apprentice Mage” will be drawing on the imagery of ancient Alexandria and the mystery school that was active around the Serapeum and Great library complex.

The familiar bee sigil, that is copyright to the SOL, will be the symbol of the new course.

Butler wrote, above, concerning the first Christian Catechetical school that arose in ancient Alexandria. In my research and contemplations, I came upon the following words of Clement of Alexandria concerning one Pantaenus – the Sicilian Bee:

“When I came upon the last (teacher), he was the first in power, having pursued him out concealed in Egypt, I found rest. He, the true, the Sicilian bee gathering the spoil of the flowers of the prophetic and apostolic meadow, engendered in the souls of hearers a deathless element of knowledge.”

Pantaenus was the first head of the Didascalia in Alexandria, he was a stoic pagan philosopher who converted to Christianity but was famed for his understanding of the more profound, universal, teachings.

I would like to emphasise that the SOL is not a religious organisation and we do not teach any one particular faith. We honour all beliefs that serve humanity positively and increase awareness of human potential and responsibility. Our way is the way represented by the symbol of the ancient Alexandrian school where all sacred learning was celebrated and shared to the benefit of all.

I feel that the story of Pantaenus lends new meaning to the SOL sigil with the bee at its centre. The bee is, of course, a symbol in many mystery traditions and we will be using the logo for our introductory training as a ‘gatherer of knowledge that is offered in service’.

I am doing my best to work in harmony with the direction of the Opener of the Ways and wish to see our school prosper as we move forward in the work.

With Blessings in Light,


Director of Studies, SOL.


Posted in Messages From Steven, News

The Concept of the Rule of the Order

In the SOL we have student study groups and practical working groups that we traditionally call ‘Lodges’ in several countries.

As a long-established correspondence school, we also offer supervised teaching opportunities to our students as well as offering practical workshops that are led by the Director of Studies or teachers that are approved by him.

Recently, we introduced several new guidelines for group leaders, supervisors and workshop facilitators to observe and uphold. A few SOL members have questioned the need for a “Volunteer Code of Conduct”, “Complaints Process” or “Privacy Policy” in a Mystery School.

Such policies and processes are all about upholding ethical conduct and respecting healthy boundaries in relationships within the school between students, study group, lodge members or workshop attendees and leaders, supervisors, and teachers in the school.

However, such ethical guidelines also correspond with a very old idea that is often referred to as “the Rule of the Order” or “the Rule of the Lodge”.

In schools such as ours, the overall leader, in our case, the Director of Studies, should not be seen as an authority figure who must be deferred to and obeyed. Indeed, no supervisor, group leader or teacher of workshops is in a position of authority over others that is in any way ‘dictatorial’.

Groups that are led by a charismatic leader where their personal likes, dislikes, dietary preferences or political views are constantly featured as being relevant to the work are groups that can all too easily fall into functioning as personality cults. In such groups, the leader may advance students on the basis of favouritism and establish patterns of rewarding those who display sycophantic behaviour or who serve or please them personally in various ways.

The “Rule of the Order” is a powerful antidote against personality cults of any type becoming established in the context of the western esoteric tradition.

Dion Fortune described the Mystical Qabalah as “the yoga of the west” because it is a system that can practically assist awareness and the actualization of mystical union on many levels of experience. In our tradition, we do not teach using an eastern style “guru – chela” modality of learning.

We value taking personal responsibility for our actions and learning on the path and making free choices as individuals independently of any authority figures. We certainly do not encourage obedience to any human personalities.

W.E Butler wrote the following in his book: “Magic and the Qabalah” concerning the “Rule of the Order”. In the SOL this “rule” has traditionally been represented by the symbol of “the sword of the mysteries” in various ceremonies.

Where the Rule of the Order is upheld all the members of the school, including every leader or officer, subscribes to the rule and is ultimately judged by it. This is very important to understand in the work of a school such as ours. However, it is also as simple as the idea behind a work contract wherein you agree to fulfill specific duties and responsibilities and if you don’t then you have broken your contract and may have lost the right to continue to work in a specific role.

“…true esoteric teachers do not desire any slavish obedience from their followers, they do require that the aspirant should ” obey the rule”. Here we come to something which will be familiar to those of my readers who have any knowledge of the monastic orders in the Christian church.

The communities of monks or nuns live and work “under obedience”, and many Protestant critics of the system seem to imagine that the members of these communities vow implicit obedience to the head of the particular monastery or convent in which they happen to be. This is not true. Obviously, there must be a system of discipline, no community can be run without some form of control, but the obedience which is demanded of the novice when taking his final vows is obedience to the “Rule of the Order”, and by this Rule all the community, from the highest to the lowest, are bound.

If we take one of the orders, the Benedictines, as an example, we find that the whole life of the community is regulated by the Rule which was first laid down by the founder of the Order, St Benedict, and this rule is administered by a willing collaboration between all the brethren. Any arbitrary action by the head of the community can be challenged without fear by any brother who feels that in this instance the Rule was not being obeyed.

So in the esoteric schools, the true obedience is given to the Rule of the Order which is behind the outer school. For the esoteric schools are pendant from the great orders which exist behind the scenes. Some may think that this makes membership of an esoteric school still more doubtful than they had already thought, but as the Order Rule is always taught, and can thus be compared with the general moral and ethical outlooks, the individual is always in a position to judge its validity, as far as his own capacity permits.”

W.E. Butler here refers to inner orders that work with the various schools. The inner teacher of the SOL has often been referred to using the title: “The Opener of the Ways”. It should be remembered that even the inner teacher of the school subscribes to the “Rule of the Order” as it is expressed and upheld on the inner levels and is in no way a figure who should be idolized or followed blindly. This is why we are taught from the beginning of our training that the first virtues of the path are discretion and discrimination.

Followers of esoteric disciplines can all too often make inner guides and “contacts” into scapegoats onto which they project all sorts of illusionary perceptions rooted in their own misunderstandings or needs.

In our school’s history, there have been instances where teachers or leaders have abused their position by manipulating or exploiting students in various ways and we are taking steps to ensure that as we move forward in our work that sound ethics and positive aims and ideals are upheld and that processes are in place where the Rule of the Order is clearly understood and is subscribed to and upheld by all.

© 2019, Steven Critchley & Servants of the Light

Posted in Messages From Steven, News

On the Edge of the Etheric Workshop

May 3rd-5th, 2019, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent

Cost: £80 (including refreshments and light meals)

Steven will also be teaching this workshop in the USA in the fall this year, details will be announced as soon as arrangements have been finalised.

The etheric body has been variously discussed as the power bodythe resurrection body, the body of light, the secret Adam, the eidolon and the augoeides or luminous body.

The etheric body can be understood as linking the physical body with states of consciousness and enlivening influxes of spiritual energy, it can be seen as the enlivening bond between the physical, the soul and the spirit.

In W.E. Butler’s Practical Course on the Mystical Qabalah, which was the SOL main correspondence course for decades, the etheric body was presented as “The Castle Golem” or “The Etheric Golem“.

In this workshop, taught by Steven Critchley, we will consider the etheric body and its power in connection to the spirit, soul and physical body by reviewing W. E. Butler’s teachings about “The Castle Golem” that students were taught to project and re-absorb using Qabalistic methods and the symbolism of an interior castle seeded in the Round Table, the veiled Grail, and symbols of the sun.

Furthermore, we will compare W.E. Butler’s presentation of the etheric body with the Renaissance Mage, Marsilio Ficino’s teachings about the eidolon from his Platonic Theology and how Ficino taught that the eidolon could receive impressions from the soul and the “higher self” which he called the angel.

W.E. Butler wrote a short article on the etheric body in the Spiritualist periodical Light in 1922 and in the workshop we will also explore how Spiritualist teachings influenced W.E. Butler’s ideas about the etheric body, especially through his first teacher, the medium Robert King who worked as a Spiritualist medium and member of staff at W.T. Stead’s pioneering Julia’s Bureau, in London where private sittings were offered to the public in Edwardian times.

In his SOL course, W.E. Butler wrote, concerning what is called physical mediumship:

“There are some people who have a peculiar etheric structure which enables part of their body to be reduced to a strange amorphous substance which can be extruded from the body and appear as a cloud of misty material usually known as “ectoplasm.” We have seen this substance streaming from the body of a medium, and have seen it moulded by invisible intelligences into what appeared to be true human forms.”

The etheric body is part of what might be called the etheric world and we will practically consider how we can become aware of our etheric body and the ‘aura’ using guided meditations and practical exercises.

In 1934, Arthur Findlay published a groundbreaking book called “On the Edge of the Etheric” that explored the etheric body and “Scientific Proof of the Afterlife” in the etheric world. We have borrowed the title of our workshop from the book.

We are delighted that we have been able to hire the building of the historic Longton National Spiritualist Church as the venue for the workshop that we feel will be a special setting in which to explore teachings about the etheric body and the etheric world.

SOL students will find this workshop to be both informative and practical.

The workshop will begin on Friday evening, May 3rd at 7:30pm and will conclude on Sunday afternoon, May 5th 2019 by 3pm.

The workshop will take place in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent and is non-residential, light refreshments and a light lunch will be provided on-site on Saturday and Sunday and some supper will be provided at the venue on Saturday too.

Please email to register your interest and for booking details or if you have any inquiries.



Posted in Event Announcement, Messages From Steven, News

Dedication of this House of Light

Star Above – Star Below – Star Within

Blessings on this House of Light and its Opened Way

Discover the Inner Light – The Epiphany Within

“I want to know in order to serve”

May the Gifts of Your Soul Shine in the World

Servant of the Light



Posted in Messages From Steven, News

Solstice Greetings from Steven

Dear Students, Supervisors, Lodge Magi and Friends of the SOL,

I am writing to wish everyone a blessed Yuletide and a very happy new year 2019 and I am also writing to share a short symbol-prayer that can be likened in some ways to a very simple guided visualization.

We have seen lots of changes this year in the SOL school and I have been impressed with how everyone has adapted and continued to work towards our vision of practically teaching the Mystical Qabalah.

Thank you to everyone in admin, all the supervisors, lodge leaders and those who teach workshops for the school for all your hard work.

New admissions will remain temporarily suspended for several months yet, but later in 2019 I plan to begin accepting new students into the school once again.

I would like to share what I call a symbol-prayer with you all and hope that as many of you as may feel inclined might join me in this visualization from time to time throughout the festive period into the early part of the new year.

While I was meditating and praying a few days ago a vivid image arose before me spontaneously and I felt into it and then flowed with it as a prayer for the school.

What do I mean by “felt into it” and “flowed with it?”

Not everyone is predominantly visual when working on inner levels. “Seeing” involves using the inner counterparts of all our five physical senses so that we touch, hear, smell, taste as well as “see” as we intuit using the sacred imagination as an organ to perceive non-physical reality.

So, prepare to see in whatever way suits you best. Make your intent clear, in whatever way you choose, to open up to work on inner levels.

Relax into a meditation posture, as you have been taught, and is now automatic to you.

Enter the silence within and be aware of the Presence of your living soul that is uniquely connected to the Divine through your individual spirit.

See the land of Logres, the inner matter of Britain, on a midwinter’s night, see an indigo sky lighted by the moon and stars spread out across the land. Everything glows in the silver night-light. 

Let your perceiving roam across the land, the hills and mountains, the rivers, glades, woodlands, groves enclosures, wells, villages, castles, chapels, towns, and sacred springs. 

Then, become embodied in the vision, so you are in Logres.

Feel yourself standing in an enchanted wood next to a clear river, see on a hill nearby the place that is known as Camelot. 

In the midst of the city of Camelot, there stands a mighty keep, called the “Castle of the King.” Some of you will know this scene well, others of you may come to know it at some future time.

You can see a beautiful walled garden near the castle and within the parameters of the castled city of Camelot.

Feel a presence approaching you through the woods and see a White Hart, seeming to glow against the background of the forest as he approaches you through the trees.

The White Hart points his antlers to the sky with a nod of his head: see a star begin to descend towards the city of Camelot at the heart of Logres.

The stag then touches his hoof to the ground and you are aware of earth-light gathering and coalescing deep beneath Camelot.

See a star emerge from the earth beneath Camelot and rise upward resting just above the Castle of the King, see the Star from above and the Star from below merge and become one.

The joined stars that make an entwined hexagram shape, see light shine over Logres emanating from the six-pointed star.

Pray for the school in any way you feel inclined, follow your intuition in the light of the star.

Within the light of the star is great peace and healing. Let that light shine.

Gently return to normal consciousness, close-down firmly from engaging with the scene you projected into prayerfully.

I wish you all the very best and may all good things come to you as we move forward in the work of the SOL.

Normally, we would not make a working, such as that which I have just shared, public.

However, there have been many people, that were students of the SOL in the past, inquiring about the school and expressing a desire to keep in touch with us that I wanted to share this with everyone so that as many as wish to join in the symbol prayer can. In any case, in the genuine work, there are no secrets, all that is called for is discretion.

In peace and light this Yuletide,


Director of Studies, SOL.


Having a Mr. Tumnus moment at a tree known as “the Portal Tree” where I have done much work!








Posted in Messages From Steven, News

SOL School Complaints Process


We are pleased to announce our new school complaints process whereby those who work as volunteers in the school, any of our students, or attendees of events that we facilitate, can make a complaint about any aspect of our work, or experiences they have with us, that will be seriously considered and responded to by the Director of Studies.

Mary Beardsmore is the SOL Complaints Officer and she can be reached directly by emailing

We actively encourage anyone involved with the work of the school, in any context, to bring any issues that concern them to our attention: especially issues associated with deception, manipulative or bullying behaviour, inappropriate speech or sexual misconduct or exploitation of any form.

For general enquiries or simple problems that need to be brought to our attention please email admin directly. The SOL Complaints Officer should only be contacted in the event that a serious concern or complaint is being raised.

Emails to Mary are held in the strictest confidence and Mary will present any complaints directly to the Director of Studies and the SOL Supervisors Administrative Officer.

Any complaints that may arise concerning the Director of Studies may also be brought to the attention of the School Complaints Officer who will be able to convene a peer review panel (that includes trusted leaders in the esoteric world outside of the SOL school as well as elders and leaders in the school) to discuss complaints with the Director of Studies and challenge him or discuss any issues with him about his behaviour if necessary.

Hopefully, this school complaints process will help us to maintain a healthy environment for voluntary staff, students and those that attend SOL events.

Yours Truly,


Dr Steven Critchley, Director of Studies, SOL.



Posted in News

SOL Mission Statement

The Servants of the Light School exists to practically teach the Mystical Qabalah as a key language of the Mysteries for the purpose of the discovery of the unique Divinity that exists in each individual spirit and within the whole of creation. We work to help our students to experience a realisation of the connections, powers and potentials of the human soul aligned with the values inherent in the phrase: “I want to know in order to serve.”

The Servants of the Light School sees itself more as an organism than an organisation and aims to support a loosely knit community of individuals that have shared philosophical aspirations (remembering that philosophy is love of Wisdom), esoteric interests and ethical ideals. We promote diversity and pluralism transmitting the initiatory mysteries of the western esoteric tradition to all that are appropriately prepared and dedicated to their development, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.

The Servants of the Light School works to support an holistic unfolding of the natural talents and innate creative gifts of members of our community in service of the Divine, however Divinity is comprehended and approached within ourselves and the universe of which we are, each, an essential and eternal part. We conceive the Light to be ever expanding awareness that reveals healing truths about the self within and the self in relation to others and we work to serve that Light with honesty and to the best of our individual abilities.

The Servants of the Light is a community that aims to welcome individuals and groups from diverse wisdom traditions. We exist to facilitate a sharing of knowledge so that mutually beneficial understandings might be generated through dialogue and practical participation in activities where the Mystical Qabalah is applied as a living language that is used to explore the diverse and unifying aspects of the western esoteric tradition. 

Posted in News


Dear SOL Members and Friends,

Everyone who works in the SOL School is a volunteer, and that includes the Director of Studies, the admin team, supervisors, lodge and study group leaders and workshop and events organisers.

Without the work of each volunteer the school would not exist. The work done by each person in the school, supporting our work of practically teaching the Mystical Qabalah and associated subjects, is greatly appreciated and valued.

The SOL School is one of the most respected schools of its kind in the world. The school has many good aspects and has benefitted from the service of many volunteers. However, like all human organisations we have had our fair share of problems and difficulties in the past and there are aspects of our history that I have been contemplating and trying to learn from as we move forward in our work.

In the past months, since taking over the role of Director of Studies, I have been reviewing the school’s administrative structures and we will soon be introducing a code of conduct that I would like all of our volunteers to uphold.

I will be choosing to work in accordance with the new code of conduct in my own work in the school and I am ensuring that the role of Director of Studies is fully accountable too.

Making sure that the SOL School is an ethical organisation, where our students and all voluntary staff feel safe and appropriately supported within healthy boundaries is one of my priorities. Introducing a code of conduct, that we can each use as a guide, that reflects our aims and ideals in the work, is vitally important and will provide clarity.

Soon, each volunteer in the school will receive a copy of the new volunteer code of conduct.

In the future, the code of conduct, will be published on this website together with our revised terms and conditions of service and privacy policy, for students.

With all good wishes as we continue the work of the SOL,


Steven Critchley, Director of Studies, SOL.

Posted in News