Some years back in my early days of working with the Temple of the Golden Dawn, I had my first tangible experience of manifestation in the physical as a result of some elemental ritual work.

At this point in my “career”, I had been advanced to the 2=9 grade of Theoricus, and was to become accustomed to working with the element of Air. A secure place, they told me, because from this position of Yesod on the Tree of Life, the budding magician stands balanced on the Middle Pillar — unlike the upcoming precarious elements of Fire and Water which have you pushed and pulled to one side or another in order to learn of balance through extremes. So here I stood, safely and comfortably in the world of the Astral. Of course, being in this world can have its unusual results, and meaning or understanding of these events does not always follow.

I would first mention that prior to joining the temple, I knew I had been there before, and without any arrogance, I entered with a purpose — one not to be taught these wonderful ways of Ceremony and Magic, for it all goes so far beyond externalized ceremony, but to be reminded of what I already knew, what I already was, and what I already could be and do.

This day, I had done all the preliminary work of cleansing myself and my space, donning the robes and vestments of the Theoricus (actually, contrary to tradition, I was already wearing a near to white natural linen robe and cape lined with a golden-colored silk). I have never been good at restraint when it comes to rules (though some do make sense), and so had placed my black TAV robe in secure and blessed storage some time before. All things need to be tested.

I removed my elemental tools for placement upon my altar — my wooden pentacle and small earthen-ware bowl containing some soil, my yellow-handled dagger and incense, my lead crystal cup filled with holy and blessed water, my fire wand and a candle, and an additional wand made of oak and wrapped with 33 feet of copper wire connecting a crystal at each end, and contemplated each of the holy names associated with each tool, element and direction. Yes, not only was I already equipped with the tools of the “higher” grades, I was even using tools outside of my given curriculum. As I have said, I was only being reminded of certain things by my study and practice, and I was bold, and a bit ahead of myself, but so be it. We all do what we must do, and I was comfortable, if not a little inept with the Workings as well.

And so, I begun what was already a modified ritual (at least as far as “the book” is concerned), which actually started with a by-the-book banishing ritual (LBRP). Signs, salutations and words of power were done in the four directions, and a flaming circle of light with stars around and above using my spirit wand. My ring of fire was then expanded into a sphere of light, surrounding me in all directions, and giving me an arena for my spirit-dance. Preliminaries being done, the alchemist in me, not wishing to make gold, but to transform only the lead within me, continued now out of grade. I then performed a set of circumnabulations to bring both the expansive and contractive vortexes (vortices ?) into unified balance and focused existence.

My personal and spiritual refinement was much more important to me than elemental  work, so this somewhat more advanced work had become a preliminary act in all my proscribed work in invoking (at this time) Gnomes or Sylphs, or the Kings of those realms. With some continued vibrations, I was imbued with peace and tranquility, and in a state of “high” prayer. Upon returning to my “normal” ritual state, I released the forces of both higher and lower vortexes by reversing my twinned circumabulations. I then did a specific blessing to each of the four elements by sprinkling some soil where my feet connected to the earth, lighting some incense, dipping my fingers in the water and touching my third-eye, and lighting my candle. Each of these salutations were done in the appropriate directions and with the appropriate names of power. I was not attempting to contact any particular spirit this day as the Temple would have me practice — I was simply communing with the forces and my Self.

All things said and done, I finished up with all the closings and releasings required of this type of ceremony before I reopened the space I had made. The air was clear, and all was back to normal, and then some distraction caught my attention, be it an imagined phone ringing, a knock at the door, or even my own sloppiness, (which is very rare, I am a Virgo, with 3 other planets in Virgo, but shit does happen), and I left the room.

You might noticed that I had conveniently neglected what can be considered very important by some — though I still have mixed feelings about this (it all depends on the space and circumstance) — I left all my tools of the trade on the top of my altar, knowing I would be back, I suppose, and knowing I had done the final closing of the ritual itself.

So, part of the day passes, at least a few hours of it, when I returned back to my room where I had left everything safely earlier, and I immediately noticed something out of place. My lead-crystal cup was no longer on top of my altar — it was now on the floor directly in front of it, where I would normally stand as a matter of ritual course. It sat upright, just as it would when it contained water, but it was empty — dry as a bone. In fact, there was no water around it on the floor, either, and such quick evaporation on our polished floor was quite unlikely, if the cup had fallen. This, of course, was also unlikely, being that my altar was 40 inches high, and this cup was lead-crystal, and would be easily broken. Simply enough, these are the facts — the cup was unbroken, sitting properly like a little fat Buddha right where my feet would be placed during ritual. It was  empty, dry, and otherwise perfectly normal. I asked my wife if she had seen this, or if she’d been in the room, she had not.

I later told my “proctor” about this, and while he didn’t ask specifically what I had done in that ritual, he seemed a bit astonished (but reserved with it) that some Spirits of the Water Kingdom would somehow be involved with me. He did want to know if anything unusual happened during the rite itself, probably assuming I was a good student, one not prone to playing with forces, or maybe even knowing I was prone to disobedience by this point in our relationship. He told me to be careful in future work, and if I followed my provided ritual instructions to the letter, this shouldn’t happen again (Of course, I obviously did want things like this to happen, again and again and again). He said not to worry, but I wasn’t worried at all. I was thrilled, and I was reminded —  in a very firm and direct way — of who I was, and of the world that surrounds me. I had just begun. This was my first initiation, and it had no name, grade, or position.

So, as a story goes — no big ending, no superior revelation, no dramatic upheaval, but at the time and in the moment, I realized the sheer truth of non-physical, intelligent forces at work in the physical world, and I do continue to work with these forces to this day, and as carefully as always.