Points Chauds – A Free Illuminist Approach
Points Chauds – A Free Illuminist Approach
By Abba Dositheos
On behalf of Ormus Lodge I was invited to speak about points chauds (hot points) at a recent session hosted by our friends at the Psychic Development Group which meet every Monday night in Atlanta, GA USA. The presentation was held on 16 January 2012 and ran just over two hours. What follows is a write up of the presentation based on the outline I prepared, my personal notes and my memory of the event. I want to take this opportunity to thank Karen for the invitation to come speak at her group, the participants for coming out and showing your support, and to Tau Lamed and Tau Kimberly Lynn for the valuable feedback each of you provided afterwards. I want to note that there are various ways and means for working with hot points. This is just one approach among many. I also want to note that while Ormus Lodge does incorporate some aspects of this practice that ultimately have their roots in Vodou, we do not make any claims to be practicing traditional Haitian Vodou. We respect all authentic African diasporic traditions. What we are engaged in is something quite different and should not be confused with something which it explicitly is not. Any errors regarding names, dates, historical references and other information contained herein are my own. Feel free to contact me with comments, questions, suggestions and/or feedback. If you have a sincere interest in this topic and want to connect up with a working group that explores this and other esoteric subjects you might consider affiliating with Ormus Lodge. If you do not live in or around the Atlanta area but want to connect with other Free Illuminists you can check out the list of nodes which I maintain on the illumiGnosis blog. Each node is autonomous and many have entirely different areas of focus. You will have to contact the node of interest directly to confirm what they are about.
Honoring Papa Legba
The session opened with sevis (service) in honor of Papa Legba who is, among other things, the lwa (mystery/spirit) guardian of gates and cross roads. It was in his role as gatekeeper that I chose to petition him to open the gate to facilitate communication with the spirit world. I set up a small altar for Met Legba which consisted of a clean white covering on top of which was placed the following items – three candles (white for his Rada aspect, red for his Petro aspect and a St. Lazarus candle which a participant brought as an offering), a bottle of Haitian rum (with a glass poured for him and spiced), offerings of food (roasted chicken, corn, bananas, etc.), a cup of coffee, flowers (a white rose and a red rose) and a bottle of Florida water that was dressed and dedicated to Legba by Mama Vescha which I purchased from her ahead of time. After setting up the altar and lighting the candles I opened with a doxology adapted from the Gloria Patri prayer which includes mention of the Father, Mother, Son, Daughter, Holy Spirit without and Holy Spirit within (in contrast to the orthodox version which only mentions Father, Son and Holy Spirit). I then signaled for the music to be played. The music consisted of two recorded tracks played on CD. The first track is titled “Legba” and is performed by Boukman Eksperyans on their album “Libeté (Pran Pou’l!)”. Unfortunately I have not been able to identify the original performers for the second track. The source is this song, found on YouTube.
I also arranged for a brother to play the drum to accompany the recorded music. Thank you Brother B. for doing this. While the music was playing I began to pray. I prayed to Bondye, I honored the Ancestors and I asked Papa Legba to open the gate and to bless us all for knowledge, wisdom and well being. I used a form of silent esoteric prayer where I speak directly and spontaneously from the heart. In total my prayers lasted just over 10 minutes (the length of the two songs together). At the conclusion of the prayers I paused for a few moments of silence and then proceeded to the talk proper.
Roots in Vodou
I will preface my talk this evening by stating that I am not an initiate of traditional Haitian Vodou. I have never been to Haiti, I have never received Kanzo in a traditional Haitian spiritual community, nor have I ever been mentored by an authentic Mambo or Houngan of Haitian Vodou. That said, I do have direct experience with various lwa dating back to just over a decade (more precisely, beginning in 1996, therefore about 16 years at the time of this writing). In short I did not seek out the Vodou, but rather the Vodou found me. I chose to respond and have never regretted this decision. I serve many lwa both in my private life as well as in community. Tonight’s topic of discussion is the points chauds. This is a French term which literally means “hot points”. In one form of Kreyol hot points are often called pwen cho. The translation to English is the same (i.e. “hot points”). For the sake of this presentation I will use these terms interchangeably (i.e. points chauds, pwen cho and hot points) and will also sometimes abbreviate this to either “points” or “pwen”. When I do so, it is to be understood that I mean hot points.
So to begin, hot points have their root in Vodou where they are often considered spirits in and of themselves. In some forms of traditional Vodou the pwen are not merely abstract. They are considered spirits – actual “intelligences” or “entities” if you will – that are often called upon for specific purposes. In this context a member of community may approach a Mambo or Houngan (or alternatively, a bokor) to address any number of personal/private concerns they might have (For example, relationship issues, financial issues, health issues, etc.). If the Mambo, Houngan or bokor is amicable to the request, he or she may sometimes decide to use a pwen cho. In these instances a pwen cho can typically be associated with some type of physical object. The object might be, for instance, a stone, jar, tree limb, bottle, etc. The Mambo/Houngan/bokor might magically link a particular spirit with the object and then give this object to their client along with specific instructions on how to use it to address their concerns. I have also discovered (via dialog with an actual Houngan and again with an actual Mambo) that there is a distinction made between what are sometimes referred to as “purchased pwen” and pwen cho proper. From what I have gathered, the description I give above is more closely associated with purchased pwen. I have not been given any information as to what pwen cho are in Haitian Vodou outside of this context besides it being hinted at to me that they do exist so any comments I could offer in this regard would be pure speculation. I therefore refrain from doing so. I realize the above description is a gross generalization, but for the sake of this dialog it does serve to give at least some context of the roots of pwen cho being based in traditional Vodou which will be helpful for us when we contrast this with the Free Illuminist approach I am personally involved in and which I will give a demonstration of later tonight. The first thing to note is that within the approach taken by Ormus Lodge, which itself is derived from the Work of Docteur +Michael Bertiaux through the adaptations of such developed by T Allen Greenfield (and others involved in the “Great Arabia Mountain Working”), the “object” which is magically linked to the hot points is, in fact, our own bodies (both physical and energetic). This is a radical departure from my understanding (admittedly limited) of pwen cho in the context of traditional African diasporic traditions and therefore proceeds along a very different path while still maintaining a link back to the root. More on this later (see quote from +Bertiaux below).
Docteur Michael Bertiaux (1935 – present)
Docteur Michael Bertiaux is a well known name within the esoteric world of modern occultism. Some love him, some despise him, some think he is a genius, some think he is a lunatic, yet beyond dispute he has certainly made a lasting imprint on contemporary esoteric studies through the various organizations he has been a part of as well as the public and private works he has contributed to the esoteric community at large. Great people often provoke controversy by the very nature of their greatness. Docteur Bertiaux is no exception to this rule. Here I will highlight some events that relate – in one form or another – to our present topic. In 1963 (possibly 1964?) Docteur Bertiaux traveled to Haiti as an Anglican missionary. While there he made the acquaintance of a man by the name of Hector Francois Jean-Maine (1925 – ?) who was himself the son of Lucien Francois Jean-Maine (1869 – 1960). The latter (Lucien Francois Jean-Maine) was a Haitian born Vodou priest (Houngan), Martinist, Elus Cohen and Gnostic Bishop. He was also the founder of the Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua (OTOA – The Ancient Order of the Templars of the East) and La Couleuvre Noire (LCN – The Black Snake Cultus). His son, Hector Francois Jean-Maine, who followed in his father’s footsteps, was to become Docteur Bertiaux’s primary teacher.
Docteur Bertiaux returns to the United States. At some point along the way he receives initiation into the Monastery of the Seven Rays (M7R) as well as the aforementioned OTOA and LCN. He is also involved for a time with the Theosophical Society, the Spiritist movement of Allan Kardec, Martinism and is consecrated a bishop of Apostolic and Gnostic lineage. In 1988 he publishes “The Voudon Gnostic Workbook” (VGW) and thereby goes public with some of his teachings (others yet remain within the confines of the magical groups he has inherited and/or founded). The Expanded Edition of the VGW was released in 2007 and is currently still in print. The VGW is an immense work, definitely not an “easy read” in any sense of this phrase, yet it contains a vast array of esoteric insight, techniques, gnosis and occult instruction. VGW is extremely syncretic in nature, blending such diverse subjects as Vodou, Hoodoo, Gnosticism, Shinto, Bon, UFOlogy, Episcopi Vagantes (i.e. Wandering Bishops), Sex Magic, Memphis-Misraim Rite and Lovecraftian lore (among others). And while some may perceive this to be a sort of mishmash or hodgepodge of unrelated ideas and traditions, if one were to read the VGW in full with careful and persistent attention, one would likely find that Docteur Bertiaux masterfully lays out an entire magical universe that is both self-consistent and uniquely his own. And if one were to meditate upon this even further, it is as if Docteur Bertiaux is telling us to do the same, that is, to fully grasp all of the systems we have been drawn to in our individual paths and to adapt them into a coherent whole, to make them our own, to create our own system, one that works for us, one that leads us towards the highest pinnacles of Illumination and beyond. Circling back to our topic of interest for tonight’s presentation, I want to read the following quote to show how one aspect of our present approach to the pwen cho has been directly influenced by Docteur Bertiaux:
[From "Grimoire Ghuedhe: Occult Centers of Power", The Voudon Gnostic Workbook, pg. 66.]:
This is the beginning of a series of 16 papers which will explore the occult centers of power which are the subject of the Grimoire Ghuedhe, Those who have come this far must realize that for every cosmological state or pattern there is a corresponding physical mystery or magickal sacrament and that each magickal mystery draws its power from the cosmic hierarchies or ideal being. Hence, we say that ideality and essence are the dominant qualities of the world of divine powers which are outside of man’s existence, while the mysteries of man’s existence are to be found in the magickal properties of his physical body. We learn about the cosmos from the study of man’s body, and we learn about the magickal history of our bodies from the study of cosmic mysteries and symbols, such as the theory of correspondences, which assigns powers and potencies to each part of the human body, which relate to cosmic laws and presences. [Emphasis mine]
While neither myself, nor (to my knowledge) any of the current members of Ormus Lodge have ever met Docteur Bertiaux in person, we unabashedly acknowledge a great debt to him for that which he has publicly shared in his published works as well as what we have learned directly through one of his students, T Allen Greenfield.
T Allen Greenfield (1946 – present)
Drilling down further into the interconnected web of influences that make up the “spiritual DNA” (if you will) of Ormus Lodge, we now arrive at my friend and brother of many years, T Allen Greenfield.
[Allen was present for the talk, so I requested he stand up to identify himself. He modestly obliged my request]
In 1986 Docteur Bertiaux consecrates Allen a Bishop in Apostolic and Gnostic Succession. I met Allen in the latter half of 1991 when I was pursuing study of Thelema through an organization known as the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), not to be confused with the OTOA mentioned above. I was involved with this Order for 11 years, deciding of my own accord to leave in 2002 after long deliberation which concluded with my honest feeling that I no longer felt in alignment with the direction the OTO was taking, nor did I any longer self identify as a Thelemite. Several years later, in 2006, Allen himself came to similar conclusions and made a split with OTO as well (unrelated and independent of my own departure). So at present neither of us are currently involved with that organization. Yet I acknowledge that it was in this context that I first met him and began to cultivate a friendship and magical partnership which lasts to this day. However, even back when we were both actively involved in OTO we also met outside of that context to explore other – unrelated - occult practices and techniques. Of special note were the meetings of the Hermetic Alchemical Order of the QBLH (aka the QBLH). The US branch of QBLH was headquartered at Lodge Babalon in the Chamblee/Doraville area of Georgia, USA in the mid 1990′s and Allen was living in the Lodge house at that time. I came to some of the meetings and forged close friendships with the now late Soror Ishtaria (who is gravely missed) and Soror Sekhmet (who I am still in regular contact with). Soror Ishtaria wrote a program called LEXICON that was created as a tool for “computer assisted gematria”. The primary focus of the program was English Qabalah (sometimes referred to as New Aeon English Qabalah or NAEQ and also called Cypher 6 due to the prominent cypher being the 6th iteration of the algorithm that the program generated). I view the QBLH, along with the Horus/Maat Lodge, as direct precursors to the non-hierarchical approach so favored by Free Illuminists worldwide. In any case, back in 1991, not long after first meeting Allen, he showed me a one or two page document that contained a simple set of correspondences. At that time, I believe, the correspondences consisted of 1) the 97 Degrees of Memphis (An Egyptian Rite influenced form of Masonry), 2) descriptions of certain regions on the body, 3) the Aires (Aethyrs) of John Dee’s Angelic Magic and 4) the “Terrestrial Locales” of John Dee (i.e. the Parts of Earth listed in Dee’s book – “Liber Scientiae Terrestris Auxilii & Victoria”). Allen mentioned that this was a set of correspondences he was exploring and that this derived from his work with Docteur Michael Bertiaux who he was in direct communication with at that time. I found the whole thing to be rather fascinating, but something told me to file it away in my mind as “not for now, but seek later”. I knew right away that this was going to be important for me, but I also knew that I had to wait before I could actively engage in this Work. I did not know for how long I must wait, or even why I should wait, but I knew for certain that wait…I must. I had other pursuits that took immediate precedence. In the meantime, Allen was in regular correspondence with Docteur Bertiaux and was working in close consultation with him.
In 1992 Docteur Bertiaux issues a charter to Allen which establishes the Sons (and Daughters) of Aaron Lodge. In 1993 Docteur Bertiaux consecrates Allen “sub conditione” to pass additional lines of ecclesiastical succession to him (having previously made him a bishop in 1986). Subsequent to these events, Allen begins to work with a few locals in Atlanta, offering points chauds empowerments as initially adapted from his consultations with Docteur Bertiaux. Things begin to go wrong – very wrong. Serious issues develop. Some of the participants become extremely unbalanced, one goes missing, one dies. Allen ceases any further exploration until such a time as he figures out why this is happening. He contacts Docteur Bertiaux and asks: “What am I doing wrong?”. Allen relates that Docteur Bertiaux replies: “You are doing nothing wrong.”, without any further elaboration. It takes Allen roughly 10 years to figure out what Docteur Bertiaux means. Allen ultimately proposes the theory that since he (Allen) was previously invested with the power of the Ancient Priesthood via his Episcopal consecration before receiving the hot points activations himself, and that he suffered no ill effects as did the local participants he was offering the points empowerments to, and that none of the participants themselves had previously received Episcopal consecration, that there must be something to the consecration itself which acts in a way to fortify and/or strengthen ones Body of Light (Energetic Body) thereby aiding one to contain the intense fiery energy of the hot points without suffering negative fallout or other serious consequences. Allen recommences the Work circa 2005 (or 2006?). He begins to consecrate all participants who pursue empowerments beyond just a small number of points. This is the beginning of the “Great Arabia Mountain Working” named for the location where these empowerments are often held. Mount Arabia is an ancient power-spot (400 million years old) located in Lithonia Georgia USA. Many of the local Free Illuminists consider Arabia as a sort of “holy land” and are grateful she has been preserved and not turned into a consumer site as has been the fate of her sister – Stone Mountain – located just a few miles away. We pray that Mt. Arabia will remain as it is, as it has been for millions of years, just simply herself with no man-made “attractions”, no laser shows, no concession stands, no carvings of Confederate “heroes” to scar her beautiful and raw landscape.
I approached Allen in late 2006, expressing my interest in the Great Arabia Mountain Working which I had heard about though mutual contacts. At that time Allen gave me a series of four points empowerments during a single session while I was attending an unrelated event at a local community center that he happened to be present at as well. The points I received were 96 – titled the Grand and Puissant Sovereign of the Order (both of them, there are two which represent this single Degree), 4 – titled Secret Master, 5 – titled Perfect Master and 6 – titled Intimate Secretary. I worked with these empowerments for almost a full year. I feel this initial set of points empowerments aided me in gaining a more solid foundation – both in my “mundane” life as well as my spiritual life – from which I could then proceed towards full engagement in this Work. In fact, when I later discussed this with Allen after the fact he confirmed that this is exactly why he chose those particular points for me when I first approached him.
On 8 August 2007 I received ordination to Holy Orders as Subdeacon, Deacon, Exorcist and Priest from Bishop T Allen Greenfield at Consecration Rock, Mt. Arabia. I began to receive more points empowerments.
On 8 December 2007 I was granted a charter from T Allen to found a Philosophical and Research Lodge of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis-Misraim. This group was named Ormus Lodge and has been established as a vehicle through which its members explore various aspects that have branched off of our experiences with the Great Arabia Mountain Working, points chauds empowerments, “Gnostic Vodou” and other related esoteric subjects. The Work is ongoing and open ended. More info here.
On 22 March 2008 I received episcopal consecration through T Allen with Tau Naamah and Tau HRMAShT co-consecrating (again, at Consecration Rock, Mt. Arabia). It was not long before I received all of the 97 “known” points empowerments (via T Allen and Tau Naamah) over the course of several sessions including subsequent trips to Mt. Arabia and elsewhere. I have also received some of the “experimental” points empowerments (i.e. ones not listed in the reference document). I also began to give points empowerments to many others and in turn I have also consecrated 8 people to the bishopric (All of those whom I have consecrated I raised through subdeacon, deacon and priest/priestess, either on the spot or in graduated stages), have ordained a small number of exorcists and have co-consecrated many other bishops, both local and those traveling from afar. On 20 July 2008 I received consecration sub conditione from Bishop Thomas Dionysus Langley of the Alexandrian Gnostic Church with Bishops Tau Ishaviva and Tau Galahad co-consecrating.
[Author's Note: My ecclesiastical ordinations and consecrations ultimately led me to form (in 2009) a spiritual community called the Coptic Gnostic Church (CGC) which is itself ecclesiastical and sacramental in nature. While this is connected to the present topic in the sense that it was my priestly ordination (and the unexpected and lasting effect it had on me immediately thereafter) that acted as an impetus to form an Ecclesiastical Gnostic community, the CGC is otherwise unrelated to Ormus Lodge and stands or falls on its own. The two, while not at all in conflict with each other, serve entirely different purposes.]
Comments on preparation
With her permission, I would like to read a query Karen posted to the In Free Communion Working Group in which she asks:
“Are there any preparations that I need to do for myself in order to receive the Points Chauds empowerments?”
[Permission was given, my response follows verbatim as originally posted to the discussion group in reply to Karen]
Good question. The answer, like many things related to Free Illuminism, is most likely going to be different for different people. Also note, I can only speak from my own experience and understandings, others here may have a different view altogether or perhaps something more to add. With that disclaimer, here is my take on this:
Typically my first response to people who approach me with an interest in receiving points chauds empowerments is…are you familiar with at least some of the background of this Work (in terms of its origins and current adaptations)? Is this something you think you might want to pursue long term? Not that the latter is a firm requirement, but I’ve learned it can be helpful for both the one who receives the empowerments as well as the one who is giving the empowerments to know where you stand from the outset. Is this just idle curiosity? Does it seem interesting because other people are doing it? I’m not saying any of these things are true for you personally as I honestly don’t know. I have had multiple experiences in the past where people are all fired up about receiving points and seeking ordinations/consecrations and then later they drop out of the picture – which in all honesty is fine with me as I would rather have someone be honest and say,”Well I tried this but it isn’t for me”. No harm, no foul. However, because I have experienced this a few times, I tend to ask folks now from the get-go…what is your interest?
Beyond that, the thing to consider is your own background in energetic work (Yoga, Magick, Martial Arts, etc). I know you are a medium and have worked with Caleb for some years in a Spiritualist type setting. I also believe you have some experience in Reiki (no?). The reason I ask about this is because points chauds are indeed “hot points” in the sense that they can trigger intense and/or “hot” energy levels which can subsequently trigger various physical/emotional/energetic reactions as one begins to integrate them. This is not always the case as one has to consider the specific points being received, the specific person receiving them and the specific person giving the empowerment IMHO. Also, things like the number of points received in one session can make a big difference.
Another thing to consider is if you do receive a few empowerments to begin with, integrate them well and want to continue, there are a few approaches as to how to proceed with relative safety. Allen’s default position (from what I know) is to consecrate people who take up the points work and receive more than just a few (there is no magick number here – again it can be different for different people). We have found through several years of experimentation that the egregor which is passed with episcopal consecration appears to “fortify” or “strengthen” ones “body of light” thereby enabling one to “contain” the hot points without negative fallout. And there is a history of negative fallout when this wasn’t being done. Since the change in methodology (knock on wood) no major episodes have occurred. Yet I want to point out that some may have an aversion to or simply no interest in receiving said consecration. Others may also view consecration in a more traditional sense and therefore, many other things would be associated with it (ideas of service, cultivating a spiritual community, ecclesiastical processes, etc). I fall into the latter category for the most part, but many Free Illuminists don’t (or do, but to a greater or lesser degree, etc). And yet the beauty is…there is room for all of us here.
Ormus Lodge has been working on an approach that will offer an alternative to episcopal consecration as preparation to receiving hot points beyond just a few. Not as a replacement, but as a complimentary alternative. Sothis Lodge (in NJ) is in the midst of a series of workings that is also being viewed (and correct me if I’m wrong here +Thomas) as a way to safely receive the points without involving episcopal consecration. So, there are options. In any case, it is my view that somebody can receive a few empowerments to “test the waters” and decide from there, especially so if they are already coming to this with some kind of background in energetic work. It is also my view that while it may be tempting to associate points chauds empowerments directly with other forms of energetic work (Chakras, Nadis, Acupuncture meridians, Reiki, etc), they are in fact different, not a one-to-one match. But it *helps* to have some kind of background in a related field.
I hope I have not muddied the waters further.
Perhaps some other folks will chime in as well.
To conclude the talk, I then opened the floor for Q&A. Unfortunately I FORGOT to note down the questions that were asked. For future talks such as this, where I plan on creating a write up to follow, I will be sure to jot down the participants questions and other comments.
Points Chauds Empowerments
I then opened the floor to see if any of the participants were interested in receiving points empowerments. Two signified they wanted to do so – Tau Kimberly Lynn (who had previously received empowerments last year) and Karen (who was receiving empowerments for the first time at this session). I intend on writing a second entry detailing these points empowerments from my perspective as well as soliciting reports and/or reflections from the two recipients if they are willing.
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