Almost everything I know about The Student
I was a terrible student. Seriously, I have made almost every mistake that can be made at this stage of the path of our Holy Order. Before I go into details about how I wasted my superior’s time and especially mine, a little about the grade and its history.
When the Holy Order system began operating through the Crowley-Jones structure in 1907 the “student grade” did not exist. Grade here is in quotation marks because the Student is yet another preliminary to the Probationer’s admission, when the student will in fact take an Oath to the Order under the instruction of an older Brother.
As you might expect, this allowed people totally ignorant of mystical and magical methods, even the most elementary ones, to take the Oath. This hindered communication between the instructed one and his Superior, and not only placed an unnecessary burden on the Superior, and other than that reduced the quality of Probation for such candidates. In 1912, on The Equinox Volume 1, №7 frontpages, the “degree” of Student Of The Mysteries was then instituted in the following terms:
Owing to the unnecessary strain thrown upon Neophytes by unprepared persons totally ignorant of the groundwork taking the Oath of a Probationer, the Imperator of A ∴ A ∴, under the seal and by the authority of V.V.V.V.V., ordains that every person wishing to become a Probationer of A ∴ A ∴ must first pass three months as a Student of the Mysteries.He must possess the following books:The EQUINOX, from №1 to the current number.
Raja Yoga, by Swami Vivekananda.
The Shiva Sanhita, or The Hathayoga Pradipika.
Konx Om Pax.
The Spiritual Guide, by Miguel de Molinos.
Rituel et Dogme de la haute Magie, par Eliphaz Levi, or its translation, by A. E. Waite.
The Goetia of the Lemegeton of Solomon the King.
Tannhauser, by A. Crowley.
The Sword of Song, by A. Crowley.
Time, by A. Crowley.
Eleusis, by A Crowley. Crowley. [These four last times are to be found in his Collected Works.]
The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.An examination in these books will be made. The Student is expected to show a thorough acquaintance with them, but not necessarily to understand them in any deeper sense. On passing the examination he may be admitted to the grade of Probationer.
To this list, was added in 1913 on the Equinox 1–9:
The Tao Teh King and the Writings of Kwang Tzu (Sacred Books of the East, Vols. XXXIX, XL).
What is a Student of the Mysteries?
A student, by definition, is someone who through exposure to a subject acquires or expands his knowledge. In the particular case of Astrum Argentum, the student is expected to acquire a generalized intellectual knowledge about the most varied systems of realization.
The student is expected to devote at least three months to this subject. This period may extend for as long as necessary, until the student feels ready to apply for the exam that will give admission to the Probationers grade.
I wasted much more than three months, divided into two phases. In the beginning, I put it off as much as possible — for what I gave myself the most diverse excuses to — before start dedicating myself to the readings. Too tired, too busy, but always with time to watch internet videos, play video games, waste time on social media, etc. It is obvious that during this period, I was a student in name only, give I did not study at all.
In the second phase, when I finally decided to move on, I swallowed the books hastily, reading without absorbing, rushing to finish each book, to conquer the right to ask for the test. Realize that I do not advocate that one should stretch the period longer than necessary, but you will lose a lot if you understand the Student period as a mere obstacle to overcome.
This kind of mentality in which one aims to reach the end without enjoying the process has become increasingly common: The individual wakes up, does his hygiene in the automatic mode, eats in a hurry to go to work. He goes to work focused only on getting there and does not watch the way to. He works only to finish his tasks and get his salary at the end. Come home without paying attention to anything on the way back, anxious to get there. He feeds himself almost without tasting the food, so he kills hunger and is “free” to relax. He entertains himself until bedtime. Repeat for a lifetime so he can retire. He gets to the end of his life without having lived. What are you in a hurry for? At the end of life what awaits you is death. Death can be cool, maybe there’s something beyond, I don’t know. But while it doesn’t arrive, enjoy what you have.
In the Student grade, this mentality translates into reading books thoughtlessly, absorbing almost nothing, understanding even less. Everything is theories that he is able to repeat like a parrot, but from them, he gets almost no advantage. This trend does not stop there. We see Probationers who perform their duties mechanically only to striving to become Neophytes. Neophytes who perform their work only willing to become Zelator, and so on.
We should not confuse harnessing the experience with the loss of time — which was my case as I narrated above. The problem is not the waste of time, is the waste of experience. If you go from home to work, you will have to go through your way, whether driving, commuting, or running. If you are going to enjoy the experience of the journey in any of the options above, or go through it as a mere obstacle, that’s what I’m talking about. Ignoring the experience of the journey thinking only off arrival does not save the time spent — which will be the same you taking advantage of the process or not — and only wastes the experience.
The student must study so that through a comprehensive understanding, even if without depth, he can communicate adequately with the Superior without the latter having to explain basic concepts in each conversation. The more broad the student’s base, the easier the communication will be, and the better the quality with which he will navigate through the Probation experiences. A pyramid can rise with balance as wider is its base.
Sometimes those who approach the Order do so with totally unreal expectations. They imagine that when they contact the Order, they will automatically receive exclusive attention from a “Superior to call my own,” available to answer them whenever they want, about any topics — and in acute cases of unreal expectations, they imagine that they will receive wealth, power, health, love and influence given as if by a genius of the lamp. It is not the role of the Superior to solve your problems.
The Superior is also not a teacher. He will give you no lessons, and he has no duty nor reason to answer questions that can be answered using a combination of reading, pondering, and common sense application. He definitely is not your personal assistant, so avoid asking for something that can be found on Google. Still, some Superiors go beyond their duty and make it easier for the ones under Instruction, who instead of buying books or at least searching for them on Google, can find everything centralized in a single link, as that one provided by Fr. Ad Astra. (Thanks bro, this link has been very helpful.)
The Superior is also not your friend. I do not want to say that over time a sincere and true friendship can not arise — and it’s almost always the case! — but the mere fact that a Superior answers your contact does not mean that you will automatically create with him a bond of this level. Friendship comes with time, with familiarity. Do not push it.
Anxiety and neediness
Another common occurrence is the expectation about the response time. Superiors are individuals who deal with their career, studies, family, personal life, their own grade’s work and, in some cases have dozens of Brothers under their guidance. They tend to candidates and Brothers under their instruction without receiving any financial or personal advantage.
Maybe will take him some time to answer your contact for the first time — as I write this article, the queue of contacts waiting for a reply contains 570 messages — as in subsequent messages. This is by no means an impediment to you to start studying the recommended bibliography already.
Lack of commitment
Much has been said about the huge amount of applicants waiting for months — or even years! — for an answer, but little is said about those who are answered, but as soon as they see the need for time and effort dedication, they simply vanish or do a half-ass work to only resurface later interested in grades without giving any sample of serious work.
When I consulted some Brothers about what they would find useful to talk about here, this was the response I received from Fr. A. H., which I transcribe in full:
Brother, I do not see problems in the system itself. I believe that the problem if we can call it that way, is that the system is old and requires effort, will, and a lot of reading. Nowadays, many people who come into contact want an instant noodle formula, a shortcut. They want the information to sprout without much efforts, like typing on google or talking on WhatszApp. So what happens? They get in contact and we show the way, we answer the questions, but then when they are given the Curriculum and go into the student’s class they just lose contact. I particularly offer to help at least 3 times, and I evaluate the reception, but in most cases, people disappear. Some come back years later and in a nutshell, we find that they have not done anything, because they are faced with the test and disappear again, or no longer responds.In short, we have an old and traditional system — which is not wrong-but on the other hand people nowadays have a general superficiality. They want everything ready, give in the palm of their hand.But as in everything, that’s about the person, their differences, their particularity, etc. The system may be perfect, but people are people. From me, that’s the only observation I have.
Role of the Superior
As a Student, what you can expect from your Superior is that he will inform you of the procedures as fit, inform you of the recommended literature, and after at least three months, test you for the next step. Personally, I tell the Brothers under me that they should bring to me the questions that, after reflection and research, are still strictly outside their capabilities. Sometimes the question extrapolates what is expected from this preliminary stage, in which case I inform them that this matter will be discussed further.
Of course, if after several contact attempts over time you feel that your Superior has abandoned you, you can instead communicate to the latter that due to lack of communication it is no longer your will to remain under instruction from the same, and contact another Superior or if you have contacted through a website on the Internet or something like that, send a message there explaining your situation. No Superior is required to receive a Student under him, but if he does receive, he is expected to be ready to continue with the instruction, without hindering the advancement of our future Brother.
I strongly advise the Brothers who have chosen to put themselves in the role of Superior to devote affectionate attention to the candidates, our future Brothers. As children, they can sometimes be inconvenient, anxious, needy, and non-committed, but remember that you were probably just like that back in the days. And above all, if you have freely chosen the responsibility of instructing, I suggest that you fulfill this deal with your own soul in the best way possible.
Link with the Chain
During the Student period, the individual does not take any Oaths with the Order. Any term of commitment and data requested aims only to fulfill bureaucracy and improve the efficiency of the process.
Still, experience shows that no matter how superficial the proximity of the Order, certain very rare individuals, possessing exceptional candor, are already beginning to harmonize with the Chain of the Order, whether at the intellectual, emotional, and/or ideals level. They may notice some change in their perception of themselves and of the world, which still does not guarantee the right to any premature advancement.
The main role of the Superior is to ensure the quality of their progress, and although the student can obtain some results previously or during the designated period, he must still meet the minimum period of three months and undergo the Superior’s test. If your heart is sincere, there is nothing to fear. “Fear is failure and the forerunner of failure. Courage is the beginning of virtue.”
Do I need to buy the books?
What you need is to have the books for study and prompt consultation. The vast majority of people I know find it easier and more comfortable to study and consult printed books. Personally I prefer digital formats.
Another advantage of physical books is that you will be investing in them. The more you dedicate yourself to something, whether it’s your time and effort, or money that came from time and effort, the stronger the psychological link to that. It is easier to leave behind the study of something that has not cost you anything, than when you have invested yourself.
Another advantage of the printed ones is that in case of power shortage, or if you are without your PC or mobile, this will not be an excuse to stop the study. In short, it seems to me that acquiring the printed books increases your chances of doing what you are supposed to do. If you choose digital, I recommend this link, made available by Fr. Ad Astra.
None. Zero. Nothing. By becoming a student of Astrum Argentum, you have decided on your own that what is expected of a Student, and what this stage leads to concerns you. It is a matter of common sense that you devote yourself. Let it be clear that still, no kind of conduct, code of ethics, morality, or obligation of any kind, money, in short, nothing can be charged from you.
Near the end of this article, a Brother shared with me a print screen from social media in which a Student questioned in a public group whether it was appropriate to ask the Cancellarius (secretary and archivist) of the A.’.A.’. — which by the way is an “optional” role and each group that chooses to have it has its own Cancellarius — a break from the Student period to devote itself to another order’s Work.
You do not need and should not take the time of the Cancellarius or your Superior, which are already too busy by the way. You are free to do or not do whatever you want when you want. Becoming a Student doesn’t change that.
The purpose of this period is not to train an expert in any branch of knowledge or specific practice, but someone of broad theoretical base, who knows how to conduct himself either in the study and in the dialogue of subjects relating to magic and mysticism from East to West; independence, self-teaching, common sense, research skills, etc. I write this article in the hope that it will facilitate the path of the candidates. I hope that they will soon be able to transpose this period with quality, reaping maturity from it and becoming not in name only, but in truth, a Brother of the Order of the Silver Star.
Questions and Answers
Question from “Soror”
Q. What method does the a a use to assign superiors? How does that process typically work?
A. If you request instruction from someone directly, if able, available and willing, that someone will instruct you. If not, you will be recommended to someone able, available, and willing. If you make contact through any website, e-mail, or PO box, your request will be handled by a Chancellery or a Grand Neophyte, who will make your request available to someone able, available, and willing, or several of them so that one of them will choose to instruct you or not. The criteria, such as geographic region, the content of your request, the prior knowledge you demonstrate, may or may not be taken into account, and this is entirely up to each Superior. There are no general guidelines.
Question from Davi Soares
Q. I am starting the student period, without a Superior, if I finish my studies and feel prepared, could I request the exam for probationer, even without a Superior?
A.When making this request to a Superior, I suggest that you inform this person of all the literature you have studied and the time since you consider yourself a Student. Whether that Superior will consider it sufficient or ask for more literature or study time is at his discretion. I do not recommend the possibility of exploring Probation without a Superior, as it is taking unnecessary risks and difficulties.
Comment from Fr. F.V.L.:
It has sometimes happened to me while answering a candidate that my message go to Spam Box, or the candidate is expecting something explicitly mentioning A.’. A.’. in the title and the email goes unnoticed. Just today (04/12/2021) I received feedback from a candidate to whom I sent an email on 18/06/2018 and only today did he find the email among Spam. Check your spam boxes.
Question from D.R.S.
P. I would like to know what AA lineage are you in and if it is common to have to sign a commitment agreement at the beginning.
R. On lineages and their importance, I recommend this excellent article by Alan Willms. Answering the question: Therion (Crowley)> AMAG (Israel Regardie)> Uranus (Gerald Suster)> Alion> Aureus> B.> F. (Me). For the sake of discretion, I prefer to inform only the motto without the name of those who are still alive. As for the Term of Commitment, it is common practice in the lineage of which I am, and it aims is to prevent the entry of underage and people who are already under other Superior.
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