The Grey Matters
Table of Contents
1.) GSW 2022 Conclave Report
2.) Important GSW Headmaster Announcement
3.) Rings Shipped
4.) Unlocking the Secrets of Alchemy
5.) Behind the Cover: By Names and Images
GSW 2022 Conclave Report
By Grey Matters Staff
The Grey School's 2nd Annual Conclave has just wrapped up earlier this month at our Physical Campus in Whitehall, New York. Such an auspicious event can't be properly summarized in words, but your author will endeavor to share some of the highlights with those of you who were unable to attend.
Stately Highspire Manor rises above the small town of Whitehall, New York. Nestled among the Adirondack Mountains, the Physical Campus is the heart of Wizardry and the heart of the web woven by our dedicated Apprentices, Faculty, Staff, and Magisters. Arriving at the Campus is like coming home.
Moving outside the Manor, the grounds themselves are saturated in magick and Wizardry.
From the ritual circle to the hand-built paths, stone walls, and staircases leading to the campground, it's clear that this is no mundane space.
Classes and Workshops
Attending Apprentices had the rare and valuable opportunity to learn in direct, physical contact with GSW instructors. Dean Adservio taught a well-received class on the ancient divinatory art of Geomancy, where wizards can seek answers and guidance using time-honored methods connected to the Earth itself. As a bonus, this class was taught in the recently-finished GSW Cottage, which doubles as classroom and future bunkroom for attendees. Surrounded by deeply-inlaid spells of potency and mystery, the very foundations of the classroom and all built on top of it were designed to facilitate deep dives into the mysteries.
Dean Adservio also taught an abbreviated class on the Three Models of Magick, which are foundational concepts in magick and spellcrafting that provide a framework for designing successful spells that Apprentices are introduced to in their classes.
Then, all present descended into Highspire Manor's centuries-old foundations to enter the workshop, where Provost Kingsley led a hands-on class that resulted in every attendee leaving with a hand-crafted talisman.
Wizardly Talks and Ruminations
One of the most valuable and enjoyable results of any gathering of wizards is the conversation! In the free time between scheduled activities, spontaneous conversations drifted over all manner of topics from the relationship of magick and quantum mechanics, to the feasibility of human space travel and exploration, to the origin and evolution of Headmaster Oberon's GaiaGenesis philosophy.
Provost Nicholas Kingsley demonstrated several times that his wizardly acumen is only rivaled by his culinary skills. As the result of his labors, the wizards in attendance ate exceptionally well! Favorites included deliciously sweet pancakes for breakfast - Dean Adservio doesn't usually care for pancakes but even he gladly accepted a second serving - bean tacos flavored by a delightfully tangy sauce, and a delightful pasta and vegetable dish on the inaugural night.
Weaving the Web
At the final culmination, Conclave is about the community of GSW. Meeting each other in person is a priceless chance to forge new connections, deepen existing ones, and to further nurture and spread the web that binds us all together - everything is alive, everything is interconnected. If you couldn't make it to Conclave this year, we missed you. Hopefully you will be able to make plans to join us at the next one!
Important GSW Headmaster Announcement
By Provost Nicholas Kingsley
After his many years of wizened service, our School's founder, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, has found a successor worthy of mantling the position of Leadership for this Prestigious School of Wizardry and Magick. On November 26th, 5:00 PM EST at 123 Poultney ST Whitehall NY, the ceremonies will begin, leading ultimately to the the Torch of Wizardry being passed to Nicholas Kingsley as he takes up the vaunted position of Headmaster.
The Wizards of GSW invite you to Celebrate in-person and around the web as we begin this next exciting chapter in our School's history! To join us in-person for the Passing of the Torch you'll need to RSVP at https://www.greyschool.net/rsvp. This is a Formal event and so we would ask attendees to dress in black tie/their formal regalia. The festivities, ritual and revelry, will take place at the School's Physical Campus in Whitehall NY, though this location is subject to change should attendance warrant a more accommodating venue. Providing your Email in the RSVP form will ensure that you remain up-to-date on any last moment changes which may occur.
By Magick Alley Staff
The most recent order of GSW rings has been received from the manufacturer and have been mailed out. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or address updates.
Unlocking the Secrets of Alchemy
By Apprentice Selah Nyx
In its earliest stages, alchemy was the precursor to chemistry, and it gave scientists a way to explore nature and study chemical processes. Many believed alchemy also held the secret to constructing the Philosopher’s Stone - a mystical substance that could turn base metals into gold, heal any illness and grant its owner immortality.
At least, that’s what the legends say…
But even then, alchemists knew they held the key to so much more.
A cursory glance through alchemical texts reveal an unusual collection of symbols - the Red King and White Queen, the Dragon eating its own tail, the Phoenix rising from ashes - all hinting at a deeper meaning:
Alchemy is the doorway to personal transformation, one that focuses on the human soul and our connection to the divine.
The steps in the alchemical process range from as few as three to as many as twenty-four, depending on which path you study. For purposes of this article, we’ll look at the seven steps of western alchemy, adapted from the practice of hermeticism itself.
Calcination - Physically, this is burning the Prima Materia into ash. Spiritually, this is becoming aware. We see beyond the material world and begin to realize the true essence of who we are and why we’re here.
Dissolution - Physically, we dissolve the ash in water. Spiritually, we unlock our deepest secrets by exploring our subconscious, our shadow Self.
Separation - Physically, we filter the product we created through dissolution and discard any trash or impure material we find. Spiritually, we are (re)discovering the pure essence of our true Self.
Conjunction - Physically, we combine the separated materials into a new substance, using fire or chemical. Spiritually, it is the beginning of our enlightenment. This is where we embrace new ideas about Who We Are and integrate them with our identity.
Fermentation - Physically, we introduce new bacteria to infuse the substance with new life. Spiritually, this is a place of deeper self-discovery. Here, we test ourselves, explore our darkest aspects and - through trial and error - build our spiritual muscle.
Distillation - Physically, we boil our substance to purify. Spiritually, we are removing any last remnants of destructive behavior and thinking. We are setting the stage for the birth of our new, unified Self, body and spirit, made one.
Coagulation - This is the last stage, the substance is brought into the physical world as solid matter. Spiritually, it is the uniting of the two sides of Self, the masculine and feminine, the yin and yang, the Light and Dark.
On the surface, those steps sound like an incredible metamorphosis and indeed, much of my research into alchemy suggests that a secret, magical transformation is the goal of the alchemist. Again, depending on who you read and what path you follow, this transformation can include everything from releasing personal demons to ascending to the Heavens, metaphorically or otherwise.
But what I’ve come to believe is that the true purpose of alchemy is a deeper (and much more powerful) knowing. “Uniting the two halves” doesn’t mean that they are absorbed into a shiny, new being where those halves completely disappear as they are assimilated into a higher consciousness. Instead, the duality of our human existence is balanced. Embraced. Loved.
Only then can we truly ascend - in whatever way that might be - because only then do we fully understand (and accept) the whole truth of Who We Are. Humans are not all rainbows and butterflies; we are both light and dark just like the Universe herself, and denying this truth is to deny large pieces of our existence.
And how can you be enlightened if you don’t know who you are?
The discovery of this Truth is what I think the Great Work (or magnum opus) is really seeking. And the (full and loving) acceptance of that Truth is the infamous Philosopher’s Stone. This doesn’t mean we don’t seek to heal or release or evolve. We absolutely do, and that is part of the Great Work as well. But healing doesn’t always mean “getting rid of.” It can also mean soothing, easing and forgiving.
It can mean balancing and integrating all the many pieces of YOU into a complete and conscious Self.
And who’s to say that kind of healing doesn’t trigger a deeper (and often profound) transformation of its own? There are, for instance, plenty of examples of a spiritual “soothing” manifesting as a physical healing. Anxiety, worry, negative thinking - they can all certainly produce physical symptoms, and it's not unusual to find that the symptoms disappear when the anxiety or worry is alleviated.
So, maybe the early alchemists weren’t speaking only in metaphors after all. Maybe the metamorphosis we’re chasing is the ability to step into our truest Selves, free from the anxieties and fears that suppress our Greater Potential.
I think that is the purpose of an alchemist. To create balance, both within and without.
As above, so below. As below, so above.
(Adapted from my final essay in the archived Alchemy 101 class.)
Feder, Michele. “From Alchemy to Chemistry (Article).” Khan Academy, www.khanacademy.org/humanities/big-history-project/stars-and-elements/other-material3/a/from-alchemy-to-chemistry. Accessed 17 July 2020.
Hauck, Dennis William, and Alchemy Guild Church. “The Seven Operations of Alchemy.” Alchemy Guild, www.azothalchemy.org/azoth_ritual.htm. Accessed 17 July 2020.
Labyrinthos Academy. “The Seven Stages of Alchemical Transformation: A Spiritual Metaphor (Infographic).” Labyrinthos, 10 Apr. 2017, labyrinthos.co/blogs/learn-tarot-with-labyrinthos-academy/the-seven-stages-of-alchemical-transformation-a-spiritual-metaphor-infographic.
Wikipedia contributors. “Magnum Opus (Alchemy).” Wikipedia, 14 Mar. 2020, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnum_opus_(alchemy).
Behind the Cover: By Names and Images - Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life by Peregrin Wildoak
By Dean Adservio
What a curious subject is that of the Golden Dawn. A short-lived magickal order founded in 19th century England, rocked by schism and turmoil for much of its brief life, that somehow became a major source that has influenced and shaped magick and occultism in the West ever since. Much of its material has been published for decades now and many aspects of its system have practically entered the public domain of the occult world. There was a time when you could scarcely pick up any kind of 101-level book on magick and not find instructions on the vaunted Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram - one of the Golden Dawn's creations.
Today, however, the Golden Dawn - and much of ceremonial magick in general and lodge magick in particular - has found itself relegated to the dustbin in the minds of many students of the arcane. Compared to the newest and most post-modern innovations, the antique invocations and painstakingly-precise ritual movements and gestures can feel just a bit old-fashioned and just as much a relic of a bygone era as the men and women who created it.
This doesn't represent reality, however. It represents a view of the Golden Dawn gleamed from publications that present the system as a lifeless series of actions and performances, to be memorized and performed by rote. "By Names and Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life" is a breath of fresh air that breathes new and vibrant life into this system. Inside its covers one finds detailed instructions on not only the rituals, but the "inner work" that accompanies them and makes them potent and meaningful. Visualizations, energy work, breathing patterns, altered states of consciousness, and more are all meant to be part of the Golden Dawn system - and the classic texts on the topic almost neglect them entirely; this information was meant to be passed from mouth-to-ear between masters and neophytes and kept within the temple. Peregrin Wildoak brings this essential knowledge to the forefront and offers vital keys to the mysteries of the Golden Dawn system.
If you are a student or a practitioner of this system already, this is a book you cannot afford to go without. If you are considering taking up the study and practice of the Golden Dawn system, make sure "By Names and Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life" is part of your studies.