The concept of “Adepthood” is a steadily and hot discussed theme in hermetic circles. To me, it seems, that often many members of such circles doesn´t have very clear ideas of what an Adept should be like in reality – instead the wildest rumors circulate about what an “Adept” should be capable of, what he should do (as with a certain well known hermetic author, who has quite abstruse ideas of what a Step four-practitioner should be capable of…) and how he should appear in public. Especially in the community of Bardonian practitioners some …wild… ideas indeed circulate. In most cases they are obviously based on some quite romantic ideas, sprung up from either fantasy novels or the highest heights of theosophical trimming. Thus, these images, born from the own immature wishes, lead very often to some personality cult and as such away from the students own development.
Of course, in the 5000 years of hermetic history there are quite clear definitions of what Adepthood means. Especially since the renaissance: so in Rosicrucianism someone is counted as an Adept, who has produced the “Philosophers Stone” and as such has attained powers that were considered divine – projected through the ability to transmute lead into gold and become immortal – eventually the transmutation from lead to gold on a corporal level. Following in its wake in the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Down” someone was considered an Adept, who wandered the path of the High Priest in a cabbalistic sense, pierced the first veil Paroketh and reached a solar consciousness in Tiphareth.
In my own magical system designed by Franz Bardon “Initiation into Hermetics” someone is considered an Adept, who has reached through the systematical schooling of body, soul and spirit such a high degree of consciousness, that he is able to contact his own divine SELF. The bardonian Magician doesn´t have to work through external rituals or doesn´t need to get alien symbols be anchored in their subconscious; instead they lead themselves through constant Self-Knowledge toward a higher consciousness. By the cognition of their thoughts and abilities the student starts to school and empower his own latent capabilities. Thus the Magician develops a rising independence from external influences by the growing power over themselves, their spirit and their soul. By this rising independence the Magician becomes more and more capable to project their will on their surroundings. Also the reach of their senses is expanding more and more, so that the higher spheres come into his reach. And all this without some “initiation” by other magicians. Everyone has to walk the way toward adepthood alone, a group can only be a companion but never a trailblazer. Eventually the Bardonist expands his consciousness to such heights that he is capable to get into contact with Divine Providence, getting face to face to his divine Self. Then he has become an Adept and all spheres are into his reach. His word becomes a creational act: “As above so below!”.
Thus, in all traditions “Adepthood” has something to do with the inner development of the Magician.
Sadly, these very basic signs of inner development are too often over-shadowed by the desire of many students to gain magical powers or their demands toward the Adept to prove his powers, to legitimize himself. In this case the student mostly wants to have his expectations fulfilled instead of truly understanding magic. Even real wonders get ignored, when they don´t fit in the imaginary world of the student – this absurd development in the relationship between master and student has its origins in the Theosophy of Blavatzky, whose “Adepts” were presented as mythical beings in the Himalaya mountains. Thus these attitude is very often found by modern seekers of gurus and cargo cults. (A very negative example is a expending publisher, in whose books Franz Bardon is more presented like a punishing god than a human magician – but this would be enough stuff for another blog post…). If the supposed Adept denies such wishes or isn´t capable of fulfilling the arbitrary and damands (mostly born from immature fantasies) of the student, he gets blaimed for charlatanry or even fraud very fast. Is there any wonder, that the forth pillar of the salomonic temple is called “Silence”?
Enlightenment isn´t transferable, but has to be experienced!
For us practitioners on the hermetic PATH the Adept is to be seen for the contact to the own divine (or demonic – Socrates) SELF. For this is needed the knowledge and mastery of the lower regions of the material and astral bodies, represented in Kabbalah by the Sephiroth Malkuth, and also Yesod, Hod and Netzach. Only when the constrains of the material world – the instincts, the passions and alleged thoughts – cannot control the Magician any longer, when the spirit has become quiet and free, the veil to Tiphareth can be pierced. This happens by going through death and resurrection – the Christ at the Cross who does not suffer, but hovering in light leads toward immortality; an experience that is quite incorporable into daily life. It meets the student when he is ready… he “gets put to death”. In example, that happens in a severely stroke of faith. (Please don´t look for it in hindsight – usually it is quite clear when it is happening. And of course not every stroke of faith is an initiation…) Out of this reason, there has been and still are hermetic lodges and circles who in the best case help the Magician to reach such conditions consciously. These magical lodges lead the advanced student through such experiences of initiation. It is the own awareness that becomes immortal – grounded in Malkuth, as well as centered in Tiphareth and seeks the way into the higher regions of the Heavens, and into the deepest pits of Hell. And to finally understand – everything is ONE!
This is the station of the Master, who is the master of their own individuality – over the bright and the dark light. If, on the other hand, the only goal of the pupil is to attain magical powers, mostly he will not endure. These powers appear without much effort, but mostly only when the student has already realized that they are ultimately unnecessary, as for the Adept everything happens as he wishes anyway.
Adepthood thus is no far away goal, remote and distant in the highest heights of cheesy faith in wonders, full of halos and magical power, but the natural result of consequent magical development and consequent integration of the gained abilities into the own life. You just have to DO it!