1. Peter Nascien
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  3. Thursday, 04 January 2018
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'The Guild of the Master Jesus' formed a significant part of the work of Dion Fortune's magical Fraternity alongside the Hermetic and Green Ray work. In order to develop the work of the Guild and make it available to all, she wrote and distributed a complete study course or programme of training for each role of office in the Guild: the 'Teaching Papers.' These Papers include a full description of the structure of the Guild and its various offices, a description of the nature of each role of office, a number of beautifully worded meditations, and ceremonies or rituals of admission to each stage. These Papers were originally intended for public use and we are happy to be able to include them on our website. We will post them section by section over the next few months.

You can access the Teaching Papers from here by clicking on the 'Resource Articles' tab at the top of this page.


Dion Fortune's intention in founding the Guild of the Master Jesus is made clear In the introduction to her 'Mystical Meditations on the Collects,' She 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. 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.”

Above all, and throughout, she emphasizes the link between the work of the Guild of the Master Jesus and the tradition of the Holy Grail which was brought to Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea. The Guild is thus the 'Mystical Church of the Holy Graal.'
References
  1. http://dionfortune.co.uk/resources/guild-of-the-master-jesus-the-teaching-papers
JMG Accepted Answer
One of the things I've noticed consistently with publications of DNF's practical materials -- for example, the Rites of Isis and Pan, or the Guild of the Master Jesus papers -- is that reading them casts a great deal of useful light on her theoretical writings. It's one thing to read her discussions of the methods of Ignatius of Loyola in the abstract, and quite another to see how specifically she uses those methods in practice in these instructional papers -- and given that example, it's not hard to figure out how to apply the same principle to other sacred and mythic narratives.

Come to think of it, I'm going to have to reread Gareth Knight's The Rose Cross and the Goddess, or whatever it's titled these days -- some of the meditations in that book strike me as being influenced in no small way by the Ignatian method, and I managed to miss that in previous readings...
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MargaretB Accepted Answer
I quite agree with JMG's comments above that DF's practical materials cast useful light on her other writings. I note too JMG's mention of managing to miss things in previous readings. Often when reading DF's writings I find some aspect of it strikes a note with something else that I have been reading at the time, or some contemporaneous aspect of my other esoteric, or indeed exoteric, activities. It seems to read quite differently each time. Perhaps it is not a matter of missing things in the reading but that the significance to the specific reader is different at different times. I suppose too that it is a sign that DF's work is packed with a great deal of significance that has lost nothing by the passage of time.
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JMG Accepted Answer
MargaretB, I have the same experience whenever I read DF or some of her students -- WE Butler in particular. I used to read The Magician: His Training and Work once a year -- I had it on my calendar! -- and every single time I'd end up slapping my forehead with my hand and thinking, "How on earth did I miss that every other time I read this?"

It's the mark of a really good instructional book that it can keep on teaching things as the student becomes more skilled at learning.
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Thomas Hall Accepted Answer
The visualization of the Grail chapel as circular with the four Archangels is something I'm using in constructing my personal inner plane Grail Chapel. I'm thinking that using a successful inner plane construct such as described in the Guild papers will help my own development on the Devotional Ray.
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Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
Thomas, your visualisation of the Grail chapel as circular, and therefore symbolic of the sphere of heaven, is a wonderful idea. And of course (as I'm sure you know) this forms a link with the first chapel built at Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea. DF describes it in the Guild papers:

"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."
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Thomas Hall Accepted Answer
A kind of Christain Treading the Mill. Thanks for the comment . Has anyone tried to recreate the guild now? It would be a worthy pursuit.
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Wendy Accepted Answer
I don’t know of anyone who has tried to re-create the Guild, although my impression is that there are still quite a few sets of the Guild’s papers in circulation, presumably copies of those originally issued by Dion Fortune to members of the public who attended the Guild’s meetings.

I think it’s fair to say that DF’s intention in the Guild to present an esoteric interpretation of Christ’s 'message' and an alternative to ‘Churchianity’ has not - so far - been an unqualified success! And yet from what she says, her Inner plane guides emphasised to her right from the start that this should be an important part of her overall magical initiative. Her magical work is entirely focussed on the development of the Western Mysteries, including Christianity, presumably in a deliberate contrast to the more Eastern based spirituality introduced by the Theosophical movement which was becoming widely adopted. It seems to make perfect sense that she based the ‘liturgy’ of the Guild on the esoteric Christian material described in the Grail legends, in what should have been a perfect combination of Western religion and Western mythology.

I’m not sure why the Guild has not become more widely known. I wonder if it is because, essentially, its purpose is to train those who have not received the gift of Apostolic Succession normally bestowed only by the Church, to become confident and competent in celebrating the Eucharist themselves? It’s quite a big step to take.
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Thomas Hall Accepted Answer
In a sense Bill Grays Sengreal Sodality did something similar with the Rite of Light of Sangreal Sacrament. It describes an esoteric Magical Mass that could in theory be done by anyone who feels called to do it. But there is no Christian symbolism beyond the universal nature of the sacrifice of the Sacred King in it. One becomes the body and blood as an offering to the God symbol of the Rite. A more Esoteric interpretation of the Mass. Bill was trying to create rituals that anyone in the Western Esoteric Tradition could use no matter the denomination. I feel that some of Dion Fortune s goals are behind some of Bill's work.
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JMG Accepted Answer
Wendy, I'm also baffled by the lack of interest in the Guild of the Master Jesus among Christian occultists. Do you think it's simply a lack of familiarity? Fortune's writings are now in the public domain, and it wouldn't be particularly difficult for a small publisher to put together a collection of GMJ papers with commentary and get that into circulation.

Thomas, I'm quite sure you're right. I worked with the Sangreal materials for several years, including the Sangreal Sacrament, and it really did feel as though Gray set out to do something like the GMJ with a less explicitly Christian focus. That's another piece of occult heritage that could use more attention; Gray's Holy Office of the Tree of Life in particular is very effective, and it doesn't take much work to revise it to work with a different set of Cabalistic symbolism for those who don't use Gray's.
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Thomas Hall Accepted Answer
I agree. The Office is part of my daily practice still. I feel there is a need for magical ritual of the white variety. There is so little of it out there while Grimoire literature and the like multiplies. A guild handbook would be interesting and useful.
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JMG Accepted Answer
Thomas, delighted to hear it. I ended up creating a version of the Office titled "The Litany of the Tree of Life," which uses the (admittedly peculiar) set of Cabalistic symbolism I use, which I received by way of my connections in the Druid scene. The Litany will be in print next year. I think you're spot on in suggesting that there needs to be more white magic in print, and in practice. As for the GMJ papers, once Mercury goes direct I may see if I can find an interested publisher; that could be a fun project.
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Thomas Hall Accepted Answer
I used to correspond with I believe a Colin Smyth back in the eighties about a Druid order he founded. He sold a lot of charts and ritual scrolls on Druidism. And he sold a nice Ogham card set that was hand painted. Carr Collins have me a lot of British Druid material from several sources, rituals, course material ,and lectures. Interesting material but I've never practiced any of seriously. There are plenty of Druid orders in the US now turbo don't feel inclined to go through their courses at my age. My Celtic approach is mainly through Stewarts Merlin material and Grays blend of Celtic and Qaballistic.
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JMG Accepted Answer
That would be the Druidical Order of the Pendragon, correct? I read his book when it came out.

I got involved in Druidry via the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD), which is based on your side of the pond. (The short form is that I wanted to add something a little more nature-centered to my work after more than a decade of pretty systematic Golden Dawn work). After I finished the OBOD correspondence course, by way of a chapter of accidents I couldn't get away with in a novel, I ended up being made head of a nearly defunct American Druid order, the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), and spent twelve years getting it back on its feet. That was where I ended up being handed a lot of old records and rituals, including the somewhat eccentric Cabalistic material I've used ever since.

I also worked with Stewart's Merlin material for a while, as well as his UnderWorld Initiation -- seriously good stuff.
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Thomas Hall Accepted Answer
I went to the Stewart material to work on my Green ray side like you did with the Druid material. I also got interested in the R. Cochran material by way of William Gray. The Castle of the Roses and all that. I've often wondered what the Inner Light taught in that direction besides the Chant of the elements. I also think that learning to play a musical instrument and playing traditional music helps in this area. Wasn't there a basic aspect to the Druid orders?
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Peter Nascien Accepted Answer
Hello Thomas

It's great to read of all that you have learnt and participated in, and you obviously have a wide knowledge of the Mysteries! But could I ask please that within this 'Dion Fortune' website if you would mind restricting your postings to topics that have a connection with Dion Fortune?

With many thanks and all good wishes

Peter Nascien
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Wendy Accepted Answer
JMG, your suggestion of finding a possible publisher for the Guild of the Master Jesus papers sounds wonderful. It would be excellent to see them in print after all this time and I'm sure there would be many interested readers.

Thinking again though as to why - apart from the fact that they haven't been published! - the GMJ papers haven't attracted much attention, I think another factor may be that Dion Fortune is primarily a ritualist. Her work is geared towards magical ritual, and so this is also the basis of her esoteric interpretation of the Christian religion. But really there isn't all that much potential in the life and work of Christ for ritual, apart from the obvious exception of the Holy Communion.

I personally find much meaning in Alice Bailey's interpretation of Christ's life in From Bethlehem to Calvary - but then again, there is no magical ritual as such in Alice Bailey/the Tibetan's work.
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sean Accepted Answer
Hi, I am new to this site. How do I begin work with the Guild material. It seems part 1 assumes awareness of certain things, like the central symbol and HQ. My apologies for the rudimentary nature of this enquiry. Thank you
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Nova Genista Accepted Answer
Hello Sean and welcome to this discussion.
If you are a member of a society or group that follows a Christian path then an approach may be to substitute the image of their church, temple or place of working for DF's 'H.Q.' and forge a link between your personal altar and that place so joining with the wider group mind. In the alternative, the construction of an inner abbey (such as that described in Gareth Knight and Rebecca Wilby's 'The Abbey Papers') may be a way to proceed.
It may be that others who have visited these pages previously may have found their own ways to link with established places of working and wider consciousnesses and we would be pleased to hear of any approaches that they may have developed.
Methods of working do sometimes needs to be adapted for particular times and for individual or general circumstances and they do not need to be considered as rigid instructions.
I hope that gives you some ideas Sean and perhaps other Companions may like to post here any advice that might help.
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JMG Accepted Answer
Wendy, thanks for this. No doubt that's a factor, though the GMJ communion is well worth close attention, and the meditative material in the other GMJ papers strikes me as both original and useful. Still, I think the main reason the GMJ hasn't gotten the attention it deserves is the simple fact that most people who might have been interested had no access to it. That can be fixed. ;-)
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