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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How To Form Western Esoteric Group, November 13, 2004
This review is from: Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition (Paperback)
Finally a decent book on forming a group in a modern, esoteric, manner. Prior to this book, there hasn't been much on the structuring of a formal magical lodge/order outside of a few Wiccan Circle types of books. The closest I've come across is the late William G. Gray's "Inner Temple Magic" and that had more to do with WHAT to do while in a magical order than it did about forming one.

Part of the problem with such books is that little is offered as guidance on dealing with the people within such a group. The group dynamics is usually overlooked so the seeker looking to gain some knowledge running a group and not just forming one is often left to his/her own devices on dealing with people. This makes for a blind leading the blind type of situation - at least emotionally - and usually what occurs is that the rest of the group is leaderless.

In the Satanic oriented groups, the leader is often encouraged to lead with an "iron fist" or "it's MY way or the highway" as pointed out by Rev. Yaj Nomolos in his book "The Magic Circle". Whereas in the Ritual & Ceremonial Magical traditions, the heavy handedness is not always conducive to a smooth running operation. Fortunately this book offers some simplistic thoughts on dealing with people within the lodge and mainly that is covered in Chapter 2.

What this book does offer is pretty solid material on WHY one should want to formulate a lodge and WHAT kind of structure the group should have.

The book starts out with pretty basic historical information on who the Freemasons were and why they came to be. This was based on the Medeival Guilds that were formed around trades and craftsmen. What follows next is the jump from the Freemasons to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and it's not like we haven't heard of that particular order before.

Greer also points out the foundation of what a Magical Lodge really is and offers to the interested party: structure, symbolism, magic and secrecy. In chatper 2, he nails it on the head when he writes "A magical lodge can take many forms and be many things. If it's going to function at all, though, there's at least one thing it has to be: a group of people who are able to put together the resources of space, time, and material needed for the lodge's work and who can do so with a minimum of bickering, confusion, and hurt feelings....A group that can't manage at least this much isn't going to likely to last long or get far." This fact has caused many lodges (and covens) to peter out long before they really could begin all over this very fact.

When we get thru the next three chapters on each of the foundations of symbolism, magic and secrecy, Greer has done a pretty decent job of offering more than mere platitudes in which to live by. He has explored very real concepts such as the group's egregore which helps to keep the nucleus of the group together. Then he tackles initiation and why this should be an important step to getting into a lodge. Finally he discusses the practical uses of secrecy and how this can benefit the group's continued focus as it progresses along.

The next part of the book covers the forming of a magical lodge. Greer uses a mythical group of personalities who opt to form their own lodge using alchemy as a framework. This is a useful teaching method and it allows Greer to give a better explanation of the various intricacies of sorting thru the mess of trying to form a core lodge group. He calls this group "The Order of the Athanor" and as we follow the formation of this group, we see some of the pitfalls and highpoints of forming and operating this group.

One of the pitfalls of lodges has always been the monetary dues contributions from its members. This is a sore point for many would-be lodge members because of their current financial situation which most deem financially strapped. Unfortunately, unless one has an ideal temple in their home, it takes the combined efforts of an entire group contributing money to rent a hall big enough to support a group. For example, if say you or I were to invest in building a comfortable working space such as an insulated and climate controlled pole barn, there is not only the initial cost of such a building and land to worry about but also the ongoing day-to-day maintenance to deal with. Utilities and upkeep usually are a drain on one person and without the group kicking in some sort of monetary support, the person in question will more than likely come to resent the fact that she or he has to foot the bill. And if one tries to keep meetings in their home, the same sort of thing eventually happens.

Greer also discusses some of the more esoteric rites that are available outside of just initiation and one of them is the working of Invisibility. This subject has been covered in Greer's prior work "Circles of Power". He takes this subject and lucidly explains the concept and how to do it sort of approach that many aspiring magicians drool to be able to accomplish.

All in all, this book is highly recommended with five stars because the author has chosen to tackle a very neglected subject and offers some very practical advice on forming a group. So much so that even Wiccans wishing to form a coven would be well to research from this book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You wanna start a magickal lodge?, January 5, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition (Paperback)
This book is excellent for starting a magickal lodge. I'm in a group of seven occultists and this book has offered so many suggestions to keep all of us honest. It explains the lodge structure and whtat it means, and then gives an example of starting a lodge, and then has a fictitious account of a lodge being created from scratch! Great book for establishing a lodge that will last a long time. No spells here, but information that's more important for group work. It's how to keep your group alive and not letting it fall apart.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great information, but bring salt., April 29, 2002
This review is from: Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition (Paperback)
Greer does a great service to the occult community with this book. Some of the best parts of this book deal with the drudgework and mundane aspects of lodge management -- creating the ritual, handling the legal aspects of creating a lodge, and maintaining the lodge on the administrative end. However, when he starts getting into the inner parts of lodgework, he tends to pass off his own personal (or his tradition's) theories and ideas as fact. It's a great deal of good information to ponder, but shouldn't necessarily be taken literally.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to those interested in both occult and non-occult Fraternal-type orders.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fundamental contribution to the medium, November 28, 2010
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This review is from: Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition (Paperback)
Mr. Greer makes another fundamental contribution to esoteric practice in this book. His description of the egregor, its role in esoteric practice, and the lucid descriptions offered are fundamental and applicable to a variety of applications. Truly a work of revolutionary importance. Additionally, his explanation of group workings makes the activities of the current monastic systems, both asian and western, make sense in a way that normally eludes description. While "Circles of Power" is more important from a standpoint of practical yogic and meditative work, this book provides an explanation of one of the fundamental esoteric phenomena that no other author, ancient or modern, addresses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Lodge for Dummies!, February 17, 2009
This review is from: Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition (Paperback)
By magical lodge for dummies, I do not mean to say that this is a book for stupid people, but rather that this has the same, no nonsense, cut to the essentials type of approach that the well known Dummies series of books have.

One of the sections that I liked the best was Chapter 11, A Meeting of Green Lion Lodge, which is an imaginary meeting of the Order of the Athanor. It was so good, so readable that it had me wishing that the whole book had been written in this mode, with the how to do it stuff at the back as an appendix.

Note to Greer: you should definitely write legomanistic fiction.

An excellent book, especially if you are thinking of starting or joining a magical lodge.
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4.0 out of 5 stars John Michael Greer's school of witchcraft and wizardry, December 7, 2013
This review is from: Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition (Paperback)
“Inside a Magical Lodge” is a book by John Michael Greer, who is currently the head of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA). When he published this book (1998), he practiced ritual magic in the Golden Dawn tradition, and had also joined a number of fraternal lodges, including (I suppose) the Freemasons. Greer's book does *not* include sensational revelations about secret rituals, nor does it contain detailed instructions in magic. Instead, Greer discusses the theoretical underpinnings of lodge rituals and the magic worldview, and also the history of both fraternal and magical lodges. This takes up about half of the book. The other half explains (more or less) how to actually create a magical lodge or “secret society”. Since Greer doesn't want to divulge any secrets from really existing lodges, he describes a fictitious lodge (the Order of Athanor), the rituals of which are invented by the author himself. Or so he says. Since Greer is secretive, how can we really know?

A few things stand out. One is Greer's conservative attitude. He rejects most of the New Age, and other attempts to create what he believes are artificial or fake forms of spirituality. Secret societies modelled on popular fantasy tales á la LOTR or Harry Potter? Forget it. Neo-shamanism? Syncretism? Also out. His argument is a magical one: the traditions are guarded by an “egregore”, a kind of potent energy field with a life of its own, and unless you are initiated through the proper channels, you can't tap the energy, no matter how hard you try. Thus, the egregore of the Golden Dawn became accessible only after the last remaining legitimate Golden Dawn lodge had dissolved itself around 1970. It seems Greer later revised his ideas, since he joined a Druid Revival group working a “Celtic” version of the Hermetic Qabalah! Not very traditional. Still, Greer has a point that Neo-Shamanism and similar currents could degenerate into a kind of pseudo-spirituality, unless the practitioner takes the more demanding step to actually become apprenticed to a real shaman. It's also true that new religions based on contemporary pop culture will simply mirror the prejudices (for good or for bad) of their own time.

Another thing that struck me was Greer's opposition to authoritarian leadership, sectarianism and cultishness. He prefers a democratic leadership structure with checks and balances (sometimes literally – two people should sign each cheque made out in the name of the lodge, thereby more carefully monitoring the balance…). Nor does Greer believe that only one path is the true one. Indeed, his fictive Order of Athanor is a “broad tent” magical lodge, open to people from several different traditions. Greer's perspective on God and the Divine sounds perennialist, impersonalist and “pluralist”, and is presumably influenced by the Hermetic Qabalah. The Divine, which is unfathomable in itself, uses different egregores as masks.

As for the idea of “Secret Chiefs”, Greer rejects the notion completely, pointing out that it might actually be dangerous – a personified “energy” contacted by the magicians might wreak havoc by claiming to be a secret chief or ascended master. (A very magical way of dispensing with the secret masters!) Greer also rejects most lodge history as invented, or “mythological” to use a less pejorative term. Thus, Freemasons don't really have their roots in the Knights Templar, the Temple of Solomon, or whatever.

I read about half of the book, and merely skimmed the other half, since I have no particular plans to actually form or join a magical lodge (or non-magical lodge, for that matter). However, “Inside a Magical Lodge” could be good reading for those so inclined, especially since it might make them more “down to earth”! Greer has also published a volume titled “The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies”, where he details the gritty history of fraternal and magical orders, often in rather entertaining fashion. Could perhaps be read as a complement to this book, so that you *really* know what you're getting yourself into (or what mistakes to avoid…).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Check out Moloch's review, March 20, 2008
This review is from: Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition (Paperback)
I couldn't have said it better! Everything you need to start a magical group is right here for the taking. Pick it up. Even if you are not considering joining or creating a lodge, you never know...this could come in handy one day. Also has an interesting ritual for invisibility within it.
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Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition
Inside a Magical Lodge: Group Ritual in the Western Tradition by John Michael Greer (Paperback - January 1, 1998)
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