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The Flying Rolls of the Golden Dawn (really the RR et AC as Outer members did not receive them) were a series of documents lent, lectured on and circulated to members of the Order. Whilst being considered supplementary to the official text of the Order, they are often interesting and full of practical instructions and considerations. They have all by now been published, though some versions miss a little text, which i will try and rectify soon. Like most GD documents they can be a bit opaque. I am reproducing here Flying Roll X - ‘Concerning the Symbolism of Self-Sacrifice and Crucifixion Contained in the 5°=6° Grade’ by Mathers with commentary as it presents some vital points for aspirants to this Grade. The text without commentary can be found throughout the web, like here (this site chosen only because it reproduces the footnotes; the document i copied from did not have them, the Francis King reproduction does.)
Flying Roll X
Dealing first of all with the diagrams in the First Order and proceeding upwards, it will be noticed that in the lowest Grade in the Outer (0°=0°) there are no diagrams properly so called, but that on the two Pillars is depicted the symbolism of the passage of the Soul from the Egyptian Ritual of the Dead: this being as it were a synthetical aspect to be developed and explained with the advance of the candidate through the various stages.
Commentary: The diagrams depict an Egyptian mystery understanding of the passage and transformation of conscious after death which was (and still is) viewed by many Western magical authorities as a blueprint for personal initiation and transformation whilst still living. Mathers refers here to this blueprint, depicted in the pillar diagrams, as showing the stages of the initiate as she travels through the complete Outer Order.
After the first Grade comes the 1°=10°, where we find the first form of the Sephiroth in the Tree of Life; -this is the representation of the Flaming Sword descending, but it is not until the 2°=9° comes that we begin to find the actual symbolism of self sacrifice. The 2°=9° Altar Diagram, then, represents the Serpent of Wisdom twined through the Paths. In the 4°=7° Grade, however, you are shown the same Serpent, its representation being that of the Serpent Nechushtan. This was the Serpent of Brass that Moses made in the Wilderness, and which was turned around the central Pillar of Mildness,-having three cross bars upon it,-representing a species of triple cross.
Commentary: The symbolism of self sacrifice within the Theoricus 2=9 grade that Mathers mentions but does not clarify is the actual Serpent of Wisdom itself. This diagram shows a serpent crawling up the Tree of Life embracing each of the paths in reverse order (32nd, 31st, etc). It is a symbol of the ascension of consciousness from Malkuth to Kether, a movement from a solely material orientated viewpoint towards a new vision and realisation of the inner worlds and inner divinity of All. This ascension of consciousness requires a surrendering and a sacrifice of our Malkuthian consciousness. With respect to the image of the serpent or dragon, we see this as a transformation of the circling dragon, biting its own tail as it encompasses the sphere of Malkuth. With the Theoricus initiation (after the solid integration of Malkuth through the Zelator initiation) and a willingness to move beyond the material, the serpent may let go of her own tail and begin the ascent upwards.
The brief reference to the connection between the serpents within the Theoricus and Philosophus (4=7) diagrams shows again the self-sacrificial theme. The serpent, being in this context a key symbol of transformation of consciousness through self sacrifice, is shown in both grades for a similar purpose. Within the Theoricus grade it is, as we said above, to help the initiate move beyond the realm of Malkuth and into the inner realms of herself and the universe. Within the Philosophus grade it is to help awaken the principles of self sacrifice within the initiate, who is now completing her Outer Order work and whom requires a radical change of heart before they can approach the Inner Order and its selfless ideals of service.
"Sacred Activism is the fusion of the mystic's passion for God with the activist's passion for justice, creating a third fire, which is the burning sacred heart that longs to help, preserve, and nurture every living thing." - Andrew Harvey
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