The only lodge of the Star of Azazel to use the grades system so far has been Graal. In Graal, one goes through the grades, each consisting of eight pairs of practices.
This year, we are presenting a grade working system of its own for lodge Salome. These grades are very different from Graal’s and work in another way. The grades are those of SALOME herself, in the aspect of the Dancer, and the two complementary aspects of the Master in half-human form: the animal-headed human figure of BAPHOMET and the human-headed animal figure of ASTERION. We may sum up the working in these three grades thus:
INTEREST BLOOMING | DEDICATION BUDDING
DEDICATION BLOOMING | VISION BUDDING
VISION BLOOMING | MASTERITY BUDDING
In this article, I will go through the idea of the first grade:
The most prominent character of the lodge bearing her name, this is what can be seen outside also, using one’s common exoteric perception. It thus entails the sense of sight and appearances. These appearances are to be studied, purified, and elevated. One seeks and follows the red thread of the lodge’s idea through the maze of all the worldly ambitions of exoteric surroundings. Interest blooming means that one has become interested enough in the lodge’s working to join and must now study in earnest. Dedication budding means that the attainment this grade seeks is to make that interest steady enough to be changed into a permanent dedication to the idea. This idea is, naturally, the basic Azazelian credo, which necessitates the use of the threefold key:
- Constant individual striving (conquering over sloth and seeking effortlessness in spiritual life).
- Understanding (conquering over basic misconceptions in esotericism, such as the false idea that a single authority could present one simple truth).
- Love (conquering the tremendously common misconception of selfishness and seeing empathy as something extra and unnecessary for the Work).
The work of this grade is done mainly by diligent studying of different self-chosen sources, comparing them, and bringing one’s personal touch and style to this process of integration. One has to actively seek out knowledge about occultism: not specific practical formulae, but the broader world view of living spirit in one’s actual life. The aspirant must realize that the deepest truths are not the ones one can easily learn by heart but from and about the heart. Everything must fit together. One cannot be a benevolent enchantress on Mondays and a wicked witch on Tuesdays. Since occultism is about the inner soul, that inner soul must be consciously sought, realized, and identified with. Outer things, those which draw reactive emotional responses from the profane, must start to seem secondary and not one’s focus in life.
When this studying has been going intensively for half a year, the grade student presents a written study for their ponderings, findings, questionings and realizations to the lodge guides and will receive some questions related to that. How these questions are answered will then either let the sodalis move onward to the second grade, that of Baphomet, or otherwise, more study will be encouraged before such an initiatic installation. More information and help on moving through the first grade is available for the members of the lodge.
The motto of the first Salome grade is: Pete a me quod vis, et dabo tibi. (“Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.”) One has to learn to see the challenge in this “reward for the dance” and how it will build obstacles onto one’s path unless one is careful. The particular danger is the one of shallowness and the drifting of steady focus into easy answers and easy rewards.