Almost everything I know about the Cancellarius
This article covers:
● The Cancellarius in Crowley-Jones A.’.A.’.
● The Cancellarius nowadays
● Interview with the Cancellarius
Cancellarius is a Latin word, title initially given to the guard of the Cancelli, which is transenna made of stone, wood, or trellis, adorned with ornamental motifs and used to separate the interior of Roman public buildings, notably its courts of law and palaces. The Roman Cancellarius sat next to the Cancelli, standing between the audience, and the judges and counselors. Apparently, he performed functions similar to that of a porter, receptionist and communications bearer.
Eventually, it became the title given to the Chief Scribe of Constantinople, and from his role derives the title of Chancellor, which is still used until today in governmental, religious and academic institutions. Nowadays, depending on the country, the title can mean:
- A Head of State.
- The head of a University.
- A chief of diplomatic affairs (As is the case with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil)
- The secretary/trustee of an organization, who applies its seals to its official documents.
The Cancellarius in Crowley-Jones A.’.A.’.
There seems to be no other note of this function than what is read in Z.1 manuscript of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, referred to in Crowley’s “The Temples of Solomon the King” and in works concerning that Order such as that of Regardie:
At the East of the Temple before Paroketh sit the three Chiefs who govern and rule all things and are the viceroys in the Temple of the Second Order beyond. They are the reflections therein of the 7=4, 6=5, and 5=6 Grades, and are neither comprehended in, nor understood by, the Outer Order. They represent, as it were, Veiled Divinities, and their seats are before the veil (Paroketh) which is divided into two parts at the point of the rending, as though it answered unto the veils of Isis and Nephthys impenetrable save to the initiate. Now the Imperator governeth, because in Netzach — which is the highest grade of the First Order — is the fire reflected from Geburah.The Praemonstrator is second, because in Hod is the water reflected from Chesed.The Cancellarius is third, because in Yesod is the air reflected from Tiphereth.But in each Temple these three chiefs are coeternal and coequal, thus figuring the Triad in Unity, yet are their functions different:The Imperator to commandThe Praemonstrator to instruct.The Cancellarius to record.“Even as the Flaming Fire doth overcome, and the still Waters reflect all images, and the all-wandering Air receiveth sound.”The synthesis of the Three Chiefs may be said to be in the form of Thoth who cometh from behind the veil.Yet also the Imperator may be referred unto the Goddess Nephthys from his relationship unto Geburah. The Praemonstrator unto Isis from Chesed. And the Cancellarius unto Thoth in his position as recorder.
Both Crowley and Jones were members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and when they began that manifestation of the Holy Order in 1907 they decided to use the Rosicrucian system of grades based on the Hermetic Cabala’s Tree of Life as well as on the Golden Dawn. They also maintained their administrative structure composed of Imperator, Praemonstrator and Cancellarius.
The first Cancellarius of the Order was John Frederick Charles Fuller, who although he was in fact a Probationer of A.’.A.’., was given an honorary title of 5=6 (Adeptus Minor) in order to corroborate the symbolism of the role.
Such an honorary grade does not indicate real spiritual advancement nor does it exempt from the work of the actual grades. The grade’s work, grade of the Brothers that can be keep under orientation, and everything else remains relative to the actual grade of Cancellarius and not to the honorary grade. When possible, the position of Cancellarius is given to the senior Adeptus Minor.
The relationship of the role with the elemental Air is evident when studying the symbolic attributions of the element:
Since its main attributions are recording facts, administrative routines, processing communications, ensuring that messages reach those who need to receive them, filing documents, etc., it is natural that it is linked to the element whose symbolic attributions are those of the sphere of intellect, rationality, planning and communication.
Like air, the Cancellarius needs to be jaunty and free to penetrate all spheres, absorb and transmit facts, just as air allows the reverberation of sound waves from the mouth of the speaker to the ear that must hear the message. It is advantageous for those in that role to have the readiness and activity of the Sylphs, and to have under control his Frivolity and Caprice, since those could reduce efficiency in the role.
Just as the Sun continues to shine from East to West in its apparent movement, the Cancellarius is also the bearer of the Light of the Holy Order to those outside it. Just as the ancient Roman official stood by the Cancelii to receive and transmit information between the court and judges, the Cancellarius is at the Veil of Paroketh mediating the Light that comes from the Second Order, reflecting it as the Moon does with the sunlight.
As a reflection of a component of the Supernal Triad, it is one of the pieces necessary for its manifestation on the material plane. The function of the Cancellarius is analogous in its proper plane to the path of Samekh, for as in “The Art” atu, it deals with the balance of opposites. It needs to masterfully combine activity and passivity, spirituality with materiality, tension and relaxation. He is the archer who shoots his arrow and directs it to something: the Communicator.
The Cancellarius nowadays
With the death of Crowley and later of Germer, also died at least to this day any disposition, that all lineages of the A.’.A.’. — I insist that you see this article by our Brother Alan Willms if you havent already — meet under the same governing body.
Nowadays, these lineages, constellations, families or whatever you prefer to call them, deal with their communication and bureaucracy in one of these ways:
- Each Neophyte is responsible for taking care of their own communication, paperwork and in some cases also taking care of that of Brothers under them.
- A “grand-neophyte”, whether he is chosen by other Brothers or has been naturally led to this responsibility, takes care of the communication and bureaucracy of the closest members of his “family”. The grand-neophyte is almost always the “head” of a lineage or has been led to this responsibility by that “head”.
- They still adopt today the role of Cancellarius (alone or together with the other two administrative positions of the triad) in which, linked or not to the symbolism, a Brother is elected by the others from a “family” or indicated by the Authority represented by the “head” of this group, and for a fixed period of time or not, it takes care of the communication and bureaucracy of that lineage.
Personally, I am part of a “family” that has already operated in the three models, and which today adopts the last one. I see great advantage in having a Cancellarius in our lineage, for through his effort and dedication — and it is a great exercise in Devotion and Service on his part — we can allow ourselves to focus on our own initiatory work, the Brothers under our care, and whatever projects to which our Nature guides us.
Interview with the Cancellarius
Even though having to deal with his own business and the ones for the sake of our lineage, Brother Cancellarius was willing to take time to answer some of the questions sent to me regarding his role. I thank everyone who sends questions, and if by any chance they are not among the ones below, it is because for some reason it was felt that answering them would not do any good.
Q. What does a Cancellarius do? What are the duties and privileges of the position?
A.Roughly speaking, it is the duty of this chancellery to deal with communications, documents and files. Cancellarius has no privileges.
Q. Under what circumstances should someone outside the Order contact the Cancellarius? And someone from the inside?
A. The Order allows non-members to request contact through some mechanism operated by the chancellery. Originally, there was a mailbox, published in the magazine “Equinox”. This chancellery operates a contact form on the website astrumargentum.org.br.
Q. What are the most unrealistic expectations about the role? What is not an assignment of this role but people think it is?
A. Disoriented people do not understand what To Serve means and project on any symbol of superiority their yearnings to be important, to be famous, to be loved, to be respected, to be obeyed, etc. etc.
Q. How to be an A.’.A.’. Cancellarius?
A. The governing triad is formed by determination of the Superiors of the Order.
Q. How does the Cancellarius see the relationships between members of the order in postmodernity? Is Crowley's instruction about members not knowing other members a contradiction in terms, or is it an adaptive process of the order's own organic nature?
A. Disoriented people do not understand the Reason for the Order’s principles and guidelines. Senior members must uphold and protect these principles and guidelines while respecting the current conditions in which they live and work. As all people are now hyperconnected, this must naturally be dealt with.
Q. What is the greatest difficulty faced by the exercise of this role?
A.This chancellery was formed by the Superiors at an advanced time of the Order's operation in their region, a time therefore when the members operated without the presence of a chancellery, so that a habit was established and "islands" formed among senior members and "his" students, leading to a current picture in which many documents are outside the Archive.
Q. How to know what you need to do and how to behave as cancellarius, since there’s so little about the role on the internet? Are there any basic instructions or something?
A. The governing triad operates under the instruction of the Superiors of the Order.
To the Cancellarius my thanks for your time.
The role of Cancellarius, once present by default in Astrum Argentum, now exists only where and when members of a Order’s “family” see a need for it. Cancellarius’ operation aims to supply a demand, and when it does it perfectly, everything flows more easily to the members that constellate around. It is a position of silent work and service on behalf of the entire Order, and as an expression of the triad, its material work is supported by high spiritual principles.
Send your question or comment
If you have questions about A.’.A.’. or suggestions of subjects you would like to read about, send it through the form below. If you don’t express clearly how you want to be called, your question or comment will be posted anonymously. The question and answer will be posted here (if it is about the Cancellarius) or in future articles, according to the subject so they can be useful for others in the future.