In response to Io's questions on the last post, I do not think it is necessary for an individual to go through a grade system in order to find their natural position or true will in the grand scheme of things. I think that if you are a healer, a warrior, etc, and you learn that that is your nature early on and choose to focus on that, then that is a good thing - I do not think the path of the initiate is for everyone by any means. The A.A. schema which I have followed, more or less, is certainly not for everyone it was designed to be followed by the secret and the few and as a system it is extremely difficult and demanding.
In my early days of writing I distinguished between sleepers (those unaware of their ''natural'' position), players (those aware of their natural position and with a range of achievement) and ''the Last'' (those who are aware of their specific natural position and all other natural positions). The Last are, of course, the Initiated.
I was thinking about justifying why a particular system of grades would bear merit and reflection on Io's question, again it is not necessary for someone to pass a system such as this to find their natural grade. The point arises from this cryptic footnote of Aleister Crowley's in Book 4:
''Every person, whatever his grade in the Order, has also a "natural" grade appropriate to his intrinsic virtue. He may expect to be "cast out" into that grade when he becomes 8'=3'. Thus one man, throughout his career, may be essentially of the type of Netzach; another, of Hod. In the same way Rembrandt and Raphael retained their respective points of view in all stages of their art. The practical consideration is that some aspirants may find it unusually difficult to attain certain grades; or, worse, allow their inherent predispositions to influence them to neglect antipathetic, and indulge sympathetic, types of work. They may thus become more unbalanced than ever, with disastrous results. Success in one's favourite pursuit is a temptress; whose yields to her wiles limits his own growth. True, every Will is partial; but, even so, it can only fulfill itself by symmetrical expansion. It must be adjusted to the Universe, or fail of perfection.''
The point here is that the individual initiate is ''returned'' to the state of their natural grade upon becoming a Magister Templis which equates with the world of Briah, the world of archetypes. In many ways here the initiate, who has completed the journey throughout the Tree of Life (or most of it at this point) becomes a ''living archetype'', one of the Last, as opposed to simply a player of that ''natural grade''.
I will briefly list what I made out of the A.A. system (between Earth and Sol, simplified and slightly adjusted, each initiation taking between 4 and 7 years) and why I think it (or something like it) is necessary in order to become this ''souped up'' version of your natural grade. This is coming at it from the perspective of a Western student, growing up in a Western paradigm which the curriculum was designed for.
- Earth - Material based models - typical student explaining (+ accompanying research) their magickal effects through magnetism, non-verbal communication, bioelectricity, quantum fields, etc + meditation, stillness, grounding, connection work - started and developed throughout
- Luna - Memory work and psychology based models, both physical and magickal (Liber Thisarb is good because of the kind of thinking it suggests); Astral Travel (this really links Earth and Luna); Jung; Divination; introduction to important languages and semiology
- Mercury - Information based models Logic into Science: a practical science study during this time; research skills; compare, contrast and apply correspondences; Alchemy; Gnana Yoga; Qabalah (need to correct for problems with Kircher Tree - you can really screw up here, as many do, or quit, as most of the others do)
- Venus - Spirit based models Emotions into Art: practical arts study during this time; spirit work culminating in devotion to deity; (Liber Astarte vel Berylli is good); concentration, Bhakti Yoga
- Sol - *Mind* based models - ''energy work'' with ''mental light'', healing - work on Rajas Yoga should have reached Dharana
I can definitely see how these planetary style initiations build on each other, I can also see how the series of initiations relates to Plato's Cave, at the beginning of the journey of the initiate I would say we all start in the cave, chained forward and mistaking shadows for the real world. I would argue, and know from experience that it would be a huge ask for most Western students to jump straight into the light of the Sun, the form of the Good, and a Mind based model. Upon reflection I can see this system as fairly essential to the development of the initiate although I would certainly
de-Crowleyfy it and change the recommended reading in some areas.
Saying this if you are a healer and naturally of the grade of the Sun and you just want to do that, I don't think you necessarily need a mind based model, or even a model at all - there are all sorts of different approaches to healing whereby you may exercise your particular Solar skills.
But for an initiate, who endeavours to rectify the entire solar system inside themselves, following the Chaldean order, seems to make sense to me... Thoughts, feelings, reflections?