The Mystical Church of the Holy Graal: Dion Fortune's Guild of the Master Jesus.
The 'Teaching Papers' Pt 1
In the introduction to her book Mystical Meditations on the Collects, Dion Fortune comments that her studies of the esoteric aspects of the great religions of the East inspired her to seek a similar esoteric aspect within the religion of the West although this was not immediately obvious. She noted that she found good evidence of an esoteric Christianity in the writings of the great mystics of the Christian faith such as, for example, those of Saint John the Evangelist (John the ‘Beloved Disciple’) who is acknowledged by many scholars as the author of the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation.
Later in the book she says: “The writings attributed to Saint John bear the clear marks of a familiarity with the Greek Mystery schools and the mystical Qabalism of Israel. The disciple whom Jesus loved was undoubtedly aware of the existence of a Secret Doctrine within the exoteric systems of the day…...there are abundant signs throughout the writings attributed to him which indicate his realisation of a potent spiritual power behind the simple revelation which was given to simple souls.
“It is this Inner Light of mystical consciousness which must illumine the Church if it is to lead us from darkness to light, from death to life. There is a deeper significance in Christianity than is contained in the rationalisations of theology…..It is this deeper revelation which we need today if Christianity is to recover its lost influence over thinking men and women.”
As a means of putting these thoughts and ideas into practice, she initiated what became, during her lifetime, a significant element of the overall programme of magical work within her magical Fraternity and which she named ‘The Guild of the Master Jesus.’ Unlike the private rituals of the Fraternity, most of the work of the Guild was open to the public. She took the remarkable step of asserting that anyone who felt called to do so should be capable of celebrating the Holy Communion, and that this ritual should not be reserved solely for priests of the church who had been authorised through the rite of Apostolic Succession - in other words the claimed continuous succession from the first apostles through a series of bishops.
To support this radical step forward she wrote a series of lessons, instructions and meditations which provided a thorough training for anyone who wished to take a more active role in the Guild. Various graded ‘offices’ were created, such as Doorkeeper, Reader, Healer, Priest and Archpriest, and there was a ceremony of initiation for each office.
For many years these teaching papers have not been available to the public, yet the initiative of the Guild of the Master Jesus was of considerable significance to Dion Fortune’s magical thinking, and still has much to offer us. The Companions of Dion Fortune are very pleased to be able to present the Guild of the Master Jesus papers through this website. The papers will be published in installments over the coming months.
GUILD OF THE MASTER JESUS
ORGANISATION OF THE GUILD
Membership and Training of Members
The public can attend any of the Sunday and other public services of the Guild.
Only members can attend the special ceremonies and the rites of admission to the various grade of membership.
Any associate of the Fraternity can become a member of the Guild provided three senior members of the Guild consider him, or her, to be suitable, and an annual subscription of 10s. 6d. is contributed.
All members who wish to take advantage of the general training in prayer and meditation which is given in the Guild can do so. (Textbook: Mystical Meditations on the Collects by Dion Fortune).
Associates of the Fraternity who have completed the course of teaching given in Study Courses 1, 2 & 3 and whose interview has been satisfactory, and who wish to take up “the Mystical Path of the Cross” are eligible for the special advanced training in the Guild`s system of prayer and meditation. This training aims at producing lay workers who will be able to assist the priests in their work of teaching.
There are three stages in this training system:
The Seekers, who will wear a black ribbon;
The Servers, who will wear a blue (Mary) ribbon;
The Watchers, who will wear a purple ribbon.
The Seekers: Those who are searching for the Master by the desert road sides. They will be admitted at a ceremony based on the teachings of the Chaldean, and they will be taught to visualise Ritual 2 and given a few simple lectures on comparative religion to study, but no exam. An essay might be set.
The Servers: Those who study in the “House upon the Wall” of the city of the Winged Bulls. A ceremony will be woven about the story of the Three Children, about the prophet Daniel, and the Great Archangels, using Ritual 3 as the basis. Teaching will be on the visualising of 3. They will be given a few simple lectures on the general principles of theology. No exam, but to write an essay.
The Watchers: Their admission will be by a ceremony based on the story of the Graal, as in 4. In this grade will be taught, practically, composition of place, and they will make a study of the Glastonbury contacts, and of the various scripts which we have been given on these points from the inner planes. No exams, but an essay will be asked for.
When the course of the Watchers of the Graal has been completed, the Watcher will select (from an approved list) one of the great figures of the Celtic Church. He will, at a religious ceremony, offer his dedication and thus become a pupil of one of the Watchers of Avalon, and a dedicated member of the Guild.
From the dedicated members will be selected the teachers and workers in the Guild who are not in the priesthood. Some service of a definite nature should be exacted from them.
The whole course should take at least a couple of years to complete. A definite course of reading should be given, but no exams. A system of meditation should be kept up and recorded in a simple fashion.
Note: In all ceremonies these three grades will wear a grey robe with a cowl, a broad ribbon of the colour of their grade, and a badge of the Guild.
Altar fronts – the colours of the church year.
Priesthood: The priesthood of the Guild will be recruited from members of the Lodge who have completed the training given in the 3rd Degree.
Men and women are equally eligible for the priesthood: males to serve the bread and wine, females to be lectors.
At non-public ceremonies 4 Lodge members of the Guild, 2 men and 2 women, will sit within the Sanctuary for the purpose of visualisation. They will have cowl over head but faces not concealed at these non-public ceremonies.
THE MYSTICAL CHURCH OF THE HOLY GRAAL
The spiritual history of a race is written in its legends. Out of the forgotten past come stories of gods and men, and the stories contain truth. And as childhood memories are the things remembered when we come to die, so do these memories of the childhood of the race possess for us a profound validity.
They cause our hearts to burn within us because of the lost truth they contain; deep speaks unto deep in our own hearts when the racial memories awakes. A wise man said: “Let who will make the nation`s laws if I may make its ballads.”
In these dreams of a lost an forgotten beauty the heart remembers its hopes; and these hopes, remembered as dreams, are the deeds of tomorrow. It is the songs of ancient time that sing us forward into battle. Out of the misty and remote far past, when men walked with gods, come the dreams of the race. Laying ear to earth, we listen, and hear God talking with men.
Myths are not true as men count truth, proved in the written word or carven in stone; but they are true as the heart knows truth in the innermost. Dreams are made of enduring stuff, for they are the truths of eternity coming forth from the deep places of life. Let us remember the dreams and the dream-places, and the shadowy gigantic figures of heroes towering like clouds, for these things are truth in the heart.
While no attempt is made to dogmatise in the Guild teachings – for personal religious experience is the goal that is set before the aspirant – certain broad general principles are laid down as the norm.
The Seven Principles
1. There is one great unmanifested Unity in which all manifestation lives and moves and has its being. It is the God-head of all religions.
2. Manifestation takes place through Three Great Principles:
The Creator, who remains Unchanging.
Life evolving Form.
Form developing consciousness of itself and its Creator.
3. There are many hierarchies of beings in the Manifested Universe besides man. These beings are God`s creatures just as man is God`s creature. Some of them are Archangels, greater than man; others are humble nature spirits who are of lesser status than man.
4. The created Universe has a subtle as well as a dense aspect. There is an invisible reality underlying all that we see. This subtle aspect is spiritual in its nature, and it is the realm of causation; the dense aspect is the realm of effects, in which we gain experience.
5. The Christ is a Principle, not a person. Jesus the Christ embodied this Principle. He is archetypal man who shows us the Father. He is our Master and the Initiator of those who seek initiation by way of the Cross.
6. Man is a spiritual being functioning by means of a conscious mind, a subconscious mind, and a physical body, which are developed out of and organised around his spiritual life principle. This spiritual nucleus of his being is eternal. The mental and physical organisations developed around it are transient, being cast off and renewed as the soul evolves through reincarnation.
7. The destiny of man is to evolve to perfection through experience, and to come into perfect harmony with God and the Universe. This is achieved through experience in the dense world, and inspiration and illumination in the subtle world, the latter being received through the influence of the Christ Principle.
Admission to the Grade of Seeker
Ritual 2 – based upon the following script
The four kings fought with the five in the valley in the stony wastes. And after the battle, One came forth bearing bread and wine, and he is the father of the spiritual Israel, the King of Righteousness and Peace. Abraham is the father of the Israel after the flesh; but the Chaldean is the father of the spiritual Israel. The sons of Abraham are as the ands of the sea, as God promised; but the sons of the Chaldean are as the stars in the deeps of the sky at midnight. These are the spiritual Israel.
And all day long in the stony wastes the four kings fought with the five in the valley; and at dusk, when the battle was over, and the first stars came out, One came bearing bread and wine. And he moved silently over the desert sand and greeted him who was to be the father of Israel after the flesh, and said unto him – “Behold, thou art blessed of the Most High God”. And in the silence after the battle, with the first stars shining above, and the desert air cool in the dusk, the first Eucharist was made among men.
For the Chaldean was Priest of the Most High God; born without father, without mother, without descent, he came to men in the stony wastes of Chaldea; and he taught them wisdom and knowledge and is the Father of all them that know the stars.
Silently over the desert wastes he moved in the shadow when the stars were out, and came to the tents of the wandering men of the desert and taught them wisdom, for he is of those who brought gifts to humanity. None saw him come, none saw him pass. At the door of the tent in the dusk he stood, tall in the shadows; He spoke and passed, and none saw him go. In his white garment of straight linen he stood, strange among the men of the desert; and his face was golden and his skin hairless. He went by night bareheaded beneath the stars, and no man saw his face. The caravans with their bells, bringing spices from beyond Arabia, met him beside the desert road. And the camels with their bells stayed, and the men of the desert listened. Then, even as he came, so went he in silence. And the men and the camels went on to the walled city, and at the inn they told of the meeting in the darkness in the desert with him who was without father or mother and who taught the wisdom of the stars.
And we, coming by the desert way of the soul, with night fallen about us and far from the walled city, may find one waiting by the way, one who came without father or mother, tall and strange in his straight garment, with his golden hairless face and his bare sandalled feet upon the sand. He is the father of the spiritual Israel and he will teach us the wisdom of the stars.
Coming and going across the world, when the darkness overtakes us in the desert, then is the time when he that is without father or mother meets us beside the desert road, walks with us a little way, and goes as he came, in silence, leaving inspiration behind, for we have partaken of the desert Eucharist.
From the walled cities, after night has fallen, we can go out by the desert gate along the caravan road where the desert meets the sown, and there, amid the wind-driven sand, we may find him awaiting us; suddenly, in the darkness under the stars. And in the stillness of the desert by night we may learn the starry wisdom.
Let us go forth into the desert by night along the old and forgotten roads whereby the caravans brought spices from Arabia. The camels with their bells moving through the dusk, beside the cloaked men of the desert, silent on their sandalled feet. And on shall come among us bearing bread and wine, strange in his straight robe of linen, with his hairless golden face and his head bare to the stars and his feet bare to the sands of the stony waste.
Out across the wide plain leads the whiteness of the trodden way, where the caravans go, with their camels and bells. And beyond the sky line, hidden from our eyes by the curve of the earth, guarded by the mountains that bound the plain of Chaldea, is the Temple in the desert, where one waits us, bearing bread and wine.
The jagged line of mountains cuts the stars; its shadow flung far out across the sand; and there in the moonlight the white temple lies sleeping, with its domed roof and porticoed front, where one awaits us, the Chaldean who is King of Righteousness and Peace.
Admission to the Grade of Server
Ritual 3 – based upon the following script
Winged bulls guard the gate of the house of the Kings of Babylon, and the wide steps are of dark marble and the tall columns of dark granite. Within the courts are clear pools of sweet water, and overhead are the hanging gardens, perfumed in the dusk. Wind-blown torches give a golden light upon the rich cloths of the hangings.
The King is upon his jewelled throne, dark and terrible; but one stands before him in the straight linen robe of the prophet who fears him not. One who passes empty handed in integrity through the palace and goes unharmed by the claw of the lion; for he is a man of power; and he is God`s judge in the palace of the King.
He comes forth from the torchlight and the shining hanging of the palace, and his face is silver in the moonlight. He passes between the winged bulls, clad in the straight linen robe of the prophet amid the jewels of the palace of the King; and he goes by the dark courts and alleys of the city, barred with shadow in the moonlight, to the house upon the wall, and there, upon the roof, he communes with the stars.
And the great angels Gabriel and Michael come to him, and talk with him, for he is a man beloved of God, and the King has made him ruler over all the wise men of his realm and over the province of Chaldea.
The land of Chaldea is lost in the sands and forgotten, but there is a spiritual Chaldea of the heart, even as there is a spiritual Israel, and over it is set him whose name in Hebrew is Balteshazzar, God`s judge in the Palace of the King, and in Chaldea, Beloved of the Master.
We who are of the spiritual Chaldea can follow through the narrow ways of the city, barred with silver in the moonlight, and can mount by the narrow stair set in the thickness of the wall, till we come to that house-top beneath the stars. And there, looking over the domed roofs in the moonlight, we can talk with him who is set over us, our teacher and governor. And he will bring us to the mighty Angels, the Spirits before the Throne, that they may guide and protect us, for this is his duty.
Admission to the Grade of Watcher
Ritual 4 – based upon the following script
There are four mighty Archangels who stand round about the Church of the Graal and guard all them that worship therein; and they are the four spirits before the Throne.
To the East stands the mighty Archangel Raphael, all blue and purple, even like unto an opal. And in his right hand is a keen sword, and in his left the blue disc of the airy heavens; and his sign is the sign of the Eagle; and he calls upon God by the mighty Four-lettered Name of Y.H.V.H.
To the South stands the mighty Archangel Michael, all glorious in scarlet and gold and crimson. In his right hand the fiery sword that guards the gate of Paradise, and in his left the triangle of aspiring flame. His sign is the sign of the Lion and he calls upon God by His Name of Adonai, which means God made manifest in Nature, for Adonai is Lord of the Kingdom.
To the West stands the mighty Archangel Gabriel, all gloriously green and golden. In his right hand is a great sword, and in his left the silver crescent of the waters. His sign is the sign of the Man, even the Water-bearer, and he calls upon God by His Holy Name of Eheieh, the Ineffable One.
To the North stands the Dark Angel Uriel, who keepeth the Gates of Death. He is the Merciful One. In his right hand is the sword of Judgment, and in his leeft a square block of fine gold, for he is the Archangel of Earth, and gold is the ruler of earth. His sign is the sign of the Bull, and he calleth upon God by His great secret Name, Agla, which is the name upon the banners of the North.
And in the centre standeth the worshipper, lifting in his hands the Cup, the Chalice. And the Holy Spirit in flames of fire descends upon him, and the flames play round about him, warm and golden and lambent; and he chants the chant of the invoking flame:
O Holy Ghost, my soul inspire,
Thou Flame of Fire,
Descend on me.
The Church of the Graal is built without hands, eternal in the heavens. It is built by thought, eternal in each man`s heart. Each man is his own priest, and lifts therein the Cup of the Graal, and calls down the Flame of Fire, which is the Holy Spirit.
When he cries aloud in prayer and invocation, the four great Angels spread their glorious wings and lift their great swords and raise their symbols to heaven, calling upon God by His mighty Names of Power; and power comes down like a rushing wind, and like flames of fire, and all the place is filled with it.
And when he sits quietly in meditation, the four mighty Archangels stand around, their great wings folded, leaning on their swords, brooding over him.
And the Watchers come in silently and take their places, rank upon rank all round. They are those who guard the Church of the Graal; just men made perfect by the Way of the Cross. Into their care was committed the Graal by the aged hands of Joseph of Arimathea when his time came to die, and he was laid in the holiest earth in England.
And of these there are many, saints and soldiers, and good women. The three chief are Patrick and David and Colomba. Patrick, who broke the crowned heads of the great serpent Leviathan when he rose out of the Kingdom of the Qlippoth into the place of severest judgments; David of Wales, who knew all holiness, and Colomba, who sailed wild seas and brought them peace. Then there is Anselm the Bishop, Hugh the Builder, Arnolfus, Johannes, and many humble ones. And sweet St. Bride, spinning her wool in peace among the marshes.
And of the knights, all those who sought the Graal. Of these Arthur is the greatest, and beside him are Galahad and Percival, and all the chivalry of the Table Round to whom the Graal was an ideal. And their priest is Merlin, who had understanding. He it is who rules the spiritual Chaldea of these Islands.
And in the silence they hear the voice of running water where the Holy Well outpours upon its blood-red stones. And above their heads rises the Tor, crowned with its tower; and in the night sky above the Tor shines the Graal. And faint incense, lit by no earthly hands, comes drifting on the night wind from the marshes.
The Priesthood of the Guild
The Third Degree being completed, three Paths open before the initiate. These are the Ways of Wisdom, Love, and Beauty; or as they are called in the East, Rajah Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Hatha Yoga. These three Paths all lead to the same goal – the perfection of being. The choice of a Path depends upon the place from which the traveller starts, for they differ not in their goal but in their route.
The Path of Wisdom is for those who delight in intellectual achievement; it is the Path of study, research and experimentation. The Path of Beauty is for those who worship God made manifest in Nature, who wish to awaken the Old Gods by means of the rhythmic arts. The Path of Love is the way of the Cross – it is initiation through the Master Jesus. The soul knoweth its own way, and none can teach it. The choice of a Path depends upon temperament; choose therefore for thyself, and judge not for another. All shall meet in the end.
Having concluded the work of the Three Degrees, the time has come to learn further by putting them into practice. No new rite, therefore, admits to the Pronaos of the Temple; it is the place wherein experience is gained. But in the practical workings, natural aptitude must be considered, each one choosing according to his kind; each one knowing his own Master. Those initiates to whom Jesus Christ is Master form the priesthood of the Guild of the Master Jesus, and therein perform the practical work which brings through power into the sanctuary. To this end instruction is given.
Let whoso would be a priest of the Master learn concerning his tradition. It has for its holy books the tradition of Israel, of which those parts that are rejected as apocryphal are not without their value; for they have ofttimes been rejected for their profundity of wisdom by those who understood it not. These books are interpreted in the light of the Holy Qabalah, which is the mystical tradition of Israel. Further light may be sought in the Gnostic scriptures, which were the work of the Illuminati.
Likewise the great mystics of the Christian faith, have much to tell us that is of value, provided we have the keys thereto, and fall not into superstition, for they are the Masters of the Way of the Cross.
But in our relations with these, let us use wisdom and discretion, for those of the Catholic faith cannot be to us Masters unless we accept that faith. We may learn of them, but we cannot follow them, and if we invoke them, they will draw us after them. The Church of Rome permits no initiations save her own; therefore those who are not of her creed follow Christ by another Path.
For us it is the Way of the Graal. We seek our contacts with the tradition of Christ through the ancient Keltic Church of Britain, which, though it stands no more above ground, is eternal in the heavens. Our Holy Place is Glastonbury, “the holiest earthe in Englande”; and in its Avalonian aspect, as the centre of tradition and of the Table Round, we make contact with the Mysteries of Arthur. It is in the chivalrous rather than in the ascetic ideal that we find our pattern.
The symbol of the Guild is a Keltic cross with circle, mounted upon three steps, which are the Three Degrees of the Lesser Mysteries. The outstretched arms of the Cross represent sacrifice, and the circle superimposed thereon is the circle of eternal wisdom. Each member of the priesthood of the Guild should have a shrine wherein is this cross, together with such other symbols and holy pictures as may appeal to him. Before this he should keep flowers, a burning lamp, and incense for use in his meditations, for by the tendence of a shrine are the contacts thereof built up.
For the use of the priesthood there is the Chant of the Holy Spirit.
“O Holy Ghost, my soul inspire,
Thou flame of fire,
Descend on me.”
This, used after the manner of a mantram or litany, is powerful.
The daily devotions of the priest should be performed before his private shrine, and should be based upon the prayers employed in the rites of the Guild and the “Meditations upon the Collects”. He should seek by means of each prayer, used as an ardent invocation, to experience the power thereof.
Likewise should he work at the building of the church not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. To this end he should visualise the Isle of Avalon as it was in the days of the Coming of the Graal. He should see the Tor crowned with the circle of standing stones of the sun-worship, below it, the Well of the Wisdom of Merlin. He should see the circular Church of the Graal that enshrined the Cup, from which shines an eternal light. Around it are the cells of the twelve anchorites. Beyond, among the marshes, is the hermitage of Bride. Through and around al come and go Arthur and his knights, showing forth the ideal of chivalry. These are the Holy Places of the initiates of the Master Jesus in these islands. Likewise also Iona, Lindisfarne and St. Albans. And in a lesser degree, Tintagel, Camelot and Caerleon.
Now the Keltic Church was built by the wise men of old; men that had knowledge, and it stands eternal in the heavens. Those who have the sight can revive it today. Let us therefore look for this Church with the eye of faith that it may live, and be built again between heaven and earth that power may come down and men may worship.
In the working of the rites of the Guild we build this Church. Let us go forth by the pilgrim way up the Tor, and upon the crest rebuilt the Chapel of St. Michael, and above the tower, the Star of Bethlehem.
Within, the Chapel is even as our own sanctuary in black and silver, with the two pillars of positive and negative force and the Keltic cross between. But upon the altar stands the Very Graal, shining with an inner light, and above the altar descends the power of the Holy Spirit. These things we see with the inner eye, which is the eye of faith.
There are certain books which may be read with profit by the priesthood of the Guild. For the energising of devotion, read St. Thomas a Kempis; the Way of Perfection of St. Theresa; The Little Flowers of St. Francis; St. John of the Cross; the Thoughts of Pascal; the Journals of George Fox; Myers` “St. Paul”.
For technique read the Method of St. Ignatius; the Interior Castle of St. Theresa; The Science of the Sacraments, and The Hidden Side of the Christian Festivals, of Bishop Leadbeater. “Meditations on the Collects”.
For the tradition of Avalon, read “Avalon of the Heart”, Malory`s “Morte d`Arthur”, “The Priest of the Ideal” by Stephen Graham, “The Hill of Vision” by F. Bligh Bond, the Arthurian poems of Tennyson.
Ceremony of Dedication
This is the holiest earth in England. For here came Joseph the Arimathean, bearing the Cup which passed from hand to hand at that last sad meal in the upper chamber overlooking Jerusalem. The Cup that received the Blood when the Side was pierced with the spear.
All weary from his far sea-wanderings the old man came, and her his pilgrim staff struck root and budded and blossomed, as it does to this day.
Here was built the humble Church of reeds from the marshes, and the twelve anchorites, each in his cell, kept guard over the Holy Cup; wearing with their feet paths as they walked in meditation, even like the starry belt of the heavens where the sun moves in his circle.
And when evil rose like a tide over the earth will good men turned away from life in sorrow, angels came, and took the Cup away, for safety, and gave it into the keeping of the Fisher King in his treasury. And there it was guarded by three pure maidens, who brought it forth upon the feast of Christ; and whoso drank thereof, drank no more of any earthly wine.
And the Fisher King died of his sore wound, and darkness fell more deeply upon the earth, and the angels came again, and took away the Graal to the heavenly Jerusalem.
And there is stands to this day, glowing and shining in the Church not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
And even as the great Abbey was built about the little hut of reeds from the marshes, enshrining it, so does the Church of the Graal contain the Invisible Cup. Upon our altars it shines like the sun at midnight, and from it we partake of the sacraments of power.