About the Citadel

The Citadel of the Caduceus is a vehicle of the Ogdoadic magical tradition operating in London, England. We are a local body of the Ordo Astrum Sophiæ, an initiatory order teaching and practicing ritual magic, Qabalah and theurgy. Through the practice of group ritual, as well as individual meditative and magical work, we pursue the Mystery of Regeneration.

In plain language, we are a group of magicians exploring traditional western magic, using practical magic for spiritual transformation and personal evolution. Spiritual does not mean unworldly: the tradition teaches powerful rites of practical planetary and talismanic magic, spirit evocation and god-work. Our priority is to create a supportive, friendly, high-quality community in which to learn Hermetic and Qabalistic magic and transmit the Mysteries. Our goal is to create adepts.

Ernest Page in the traditional robes of a Magus. Painted by Melita Denning.

What is the ‘Ogdoadic’ tradition?

‘Ogdoadic’ just means ‘relating to the number eight’, the octave, a symbol of regeneration – a keyword of the tradition. It recognises a golden thread which runs from ancient pagan theurgists, through Byzantine mystics and the Magi of the Florentine renaissance, to the Hermetic magicians of the Victorian occult revival. The tradition was first given that name in the 1970s by Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips, two British adepts of the Aurum Solis, in a series of books publicising that order’s teaching and practice. The Astrum Sophiæ received its charter of succession from the Aurum Solis in 2002; it maintains its traditional practice while fostering new work in keeping with its spirit.

The tradition thus refers both to our broad esoteric background – Hermetic, Gnostic, Qabalistic – and the specific form it takes within the ritual practice of the Astrum Sophiæ. This includes our particular pattern of initiation and its rites, the specific divine powers invoked in our work, and our foundational meditative and magical techniques.

Who are we?

The Director of the Citadel of the Caduceus has been active in the Western Mystery Tradition for 20 years. The Ogdoadic tradition has long been the centre of his practice, but he also has a range of experience in other traditions, including other lines of ritual magic and initiatory witchcraft. He maintains a special love for the magicians of the ancient world, and the richness of the Ogdoadic tradition. He occasionally writes about the tradition, and magic more widely, on Eightfold.

How does it differ from other traditions?

Anyone familiar with post-Golden Dawn or Thelemic ritual magic, or the Hermetic Qabalah, will find much immediately comprehensible about our system. The most obvious differences are also the most superficial: the prominent use of Greek divine names, or its strong emphasis on planetary magic. Its ritual forms tend towards relative simplicity and elegance, and incorporate powerful internal magical techniques. A strong affection for the natural world sparkles through the tradition.

At a deeper level, the system is oriented towards the opening of the consciousness of Tiphareth in the individual. This experience has been known by many names – Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, Union with the Beloved, Congress with the Holy Daimon – and is the core of what we call the palingenesis, the regeneration. The initiations, empowerments and meditations given by the tradition transform and prepare the magician for this achievement – not least in developing the magical autonomy and creative freedom to recognise the true individuality of this quest.

The Ogdoadic mysteries have been expressed in differing spiritual forms, including esoteric forms of Christianity. The Astrum Sophiæ’s theurgy centres around three divine beings: Leukothea (the White Goddess), Melanotheos (the Dark God) and the Agathodaimon (the Good Spirit, the Winged Serpent and solar initiator). Its Mysteries are thus conducted in a decidedly ‘pagan’ ambience: you should be comfortable with this style of working.

What are the Citadel’s current activities?

The Citadel of the Caduceus is new-formed in London, and is now open to inquiries – and we encourages the curious and interested in Britain to make contact! We are friendly and helpful. Initially, we will run in-person discussion and practice circles around the Ogdoadic tradition in London, and are happy to meet remotely with the seriously interested.

What does the curriculum involve?

The curriculum is a form of structured development of magical capacity, which combines personal practice and study with instruction and group ritual. Personal commitment and motivation are the only essential requirements: although the Order provides mentoring, nobody can walk the path for another. Marked by beautiful and powerful initiation rites at key stages, the programme includes training in ritual and meditation, awakening and directing inner powers, invocation of gods and spirits, powerful planetary and Qabalistic attunements, as well as a unique approach to Enochian. Alongside the magical work we offer a balanced grounding in western esotericism and the skill of self-examination and spiritual growth.

No prior magical training or practice is required. Conversely, there are no shortcuts, even for the experienced. The Citadel of the Caduceus aims to foster an atmosphere of warmth and mutual support in our shared commitment to the Great Work.

The Magical Philosophy series of books published by Denning and Phillips remain core guides to our tradition. However, as befits a living tradition, the Order’s practice and thinking has evolved in the decades since their publication.

How do I know if it’s right for me?

If you are interested in the tradition, do browse the other sections of this site, and see if the material presented here rouse your spirit. More materials can be found at the Order’s website – including the Ogdoadic Journal – and at the House of Adocentyn. Browsing The Magical Philosophy is also recommended: the preface to the combined edition, and Book I as a whole, is especially useful. Additional material will also be added to this site as it grows.

You may wish to experiment with the foundational rituals of the tradition. Above all, we recommend listening for an inward ‘pull’ to the material. We welcome contact with any questions, and are happy to give more information where we can.

The curriculum of a magical group can be demanding, but immensely rewarding. It works profound positive change on the soul and psyche of an individual. There is, however, no need to rush through the work. We recommend a basic degree of stability in ordinary life as a prerequisite; note that this is not an unrealistic counsel of perfection.

A note on inclusion and ‘western’ magic.

It is sadly necessary for us to stress that when we speak of the ‘western mysteries’ we do not imply any ethnic exclusion or racial doctrine, which we abhor. It is simply a shorthand for the broad current of magical practice as it has been taught in Europe, which has for centuries been enriched by contact with Asia and North Africa. Our tradition has long prided itself on its rejection of prejudice about race, gender, sexuality or other questions of identity.

Why initiation?

Much rot is talked about initiation in esoteric circles. Magical work and spiritual transformation is perfectly possible without it: that was one purpose in publishing The Magical Philosophy. However, initiation – conducted correctly – offers a powerful aid and accelerant to the candidate’s awakening, and incorporates them into the current of the Order. In their important chapter on initiation, Denning and Phillips write:

“…no process of initiation can impart to a person any power or faculty which he or she does not, at least in potential, already possess. The purpose of the transmissible initiations is thus to assist the candidate to realize by experience, in stages which reflect the natural evolution of the functions and faculties of the psyche, those inner powers whose due awakening and correct ordering result in the attainment of magical power, with the dynamic integration of all aspects of the personality.

It is, furthermore, the purpose of the initiations not only so to mark out the parameters of advancement but to encourage the growth of the various faculties which are evoked thereby. This is an art, and a high responsibility on the part of those who would confer initiation by ritual means.”

(Book I, cap. 7.)

Why the Caduceus?

The Caduceus is, of course, the emblem of Hermes – the inspiring divine force at the head of the Hermetic tradition and its many filiations. It is also an emblem of awakening: the balanced twin currents spiralling up into the winged orb. One of the fundamental techniques of the tradition, the Clavis Rei Primae, concludes with the activation of the caduceus in the magician’s Body of Light.

Does it cost money?

The teachings of the tradition are priceless, and the Astrum Sophiæ transmits them freely as an act of service. The Order’s constitution permits the collection of voluntary and limited dues by a local body to defray its costs of operation. The Citadel of the Caduceus does not currently collect such dues, and stresses that no candidate would be turned away for reasons of material poverty.

What’s your relationship to other groups?

We do not believe any one group, tradition or order has sole purchase on the truth: many paths wind around the mountain of initiation. We advise scepticism – and a close grip on your wallet – around groups claiming otherwise. We also believe in the value of traditional and rigorous magical training, and encourage aspirants to seek out the group that calls out to them. As the Thelemic Holy Books have it: the colours are many, but the light is one.

We are aware that other initiates of the tradition live and work in Britain: we sincerely welcome their fraternal correspondence.

The Ideal of the Magical Family

The final clause of the Constitution of the Astrum Sophiae outlines a vision which guides our conduct:

Let all companions, therefore, seek ever to advance in a spirit of friendship, love, mutual respect and understanding. Let each support and honor, thus to be supported and honored by all. Let each give himself, joyfully and without reserve, to the shared endeavor; and let each draw therefrom, as is his right, a mighty strength to sustain him in his aspiration. And let each with confidence as a member of this family express himself and his ideas as he is moved: for therein shall the Order progress and be enriched. Further, let each companion share willingly in the practical work and organization of Order Life when he is so required. So shall service in the temple, whether ritual, preceptorial or administrative, be an offering of the self, upraised and consecrated in the Light of the Glorious Star.