An Open Epistle
on Vertical & Horizontal Schools

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. - AL I:40

A lot of people often confuse the differences between a horizontal or mundane magickal school and that of a vertical or Inner School of magick. I think some of it needs to be addressed.

For starters, one deals with effectuating change on this plane, the other on a higher plane. However, in both cases they deal with promulgating a certain type of behavior in the mundane as well as assisting an individual in their spiritual growth and magickal training. This is because both require a certain foundation on Malkuth. Because of this it is often hard for the Probationer or even Student to understand the subtle differences.

All Orders utilize the Tree of Life as an initiatory system in one way, or another, whether they are aware of it or not. However, where the horizontal school often prepares the student unconsciously through symbolic initiation to mold their psyche to ‘become’ something that the Order desires, the vertical school takes a more cognizant or direct knowledgeable approach wherein Mystery is the enemy of Truth and nothing is held secret. The students takes a more active role in their own development and equally so, in their failures. Although horizontal schools may ‘open’ and work with higher Spheres (Sepiroth) on the Tree of Life, in most cases the affect is so subtle that initiates rarely see the results outside of an immediate ‘zap.’ Grady McMurtry use to point out that in a horizontal school, initiation into a specific sphere (chakra) could easily take nine months to birth. This is not the case for those taking initiation into vertical schools. The affects of entering onto a sphere is immediate. This means that in a horizontal school much is tolerated while in a vertical school we must weed out those quickly who do not establish a proper foundation.

Also, in horizontal schools the initiate will often swear an Oath to the Order first and foremost and his Fellow Brothers and Sisters on 'this' plane while in a vertical school the initiates swears the oath between himself and the Universe.

Last Tuesday I posted on the blog – “... it is not to be expected that everyone who enters our Order will succeed and if someone tragically falls by the wayside, what is wrong in telling his story if it can help others?  We do this all the time on the most lowest levels; we tell children to wear helmets when riding bicycles, grownup to buckle up in their car, we tell everyone of numerous safety hazards which can cause death but why is it, if we do the same within a spiritual fraternity, that this is considered a sin to discuss why & how failure can occur? Again, we learn by example.”

Still, there is a fine line in regards to using examples. You must ask yourself, “Does the example better the student vertically, or patronize his beliefs on the horizontal level.”

Another major difference between a horizontal or mundane Fraternity and that of vertical, or Inner Schools is that getting together with other members or even outsiders to bad mouth and maliciously gossip about the Order or others is not tolerated. Yes, you have the undisputed right to speak as you will but remember, what you sow, you reap on Malkuth and you must accept the ripples that you create in the cosmic waters.  Its called being a magician.

Inner Orders are NOT like mundane fraternities where unlimited camaraderie amongst its members is condoned; instead we deal solely with small groups and one-on-one student/teacher relationships. Again, we use many tools at our disposal to teach our initiates and one of these tools are ‘examples.’  For instance, we study the great magicians of the past all the time in order to learn of their successes and to study their failures; both of which we all share in common. But it is no secret that the greatest examples are those we see all around us in the present. For example: if I told you the story of why a person died years ago or how they never firmly tightened the wheel onto the wagon, causing it to fall off and throwing him into a ditch causing his inevitable death, you’d intellectually grasp the problem ... repeat 'intellectually' ... but if I told you to wear a helmut when riding a bicycle and then point out a mutual friend who was recently hit by a car and died because he was not wearing one, you’d quickly visualize and understand because the example is more ‘personal.’ It hits home.

However, if we cannot trust a student to use discretion in talking about what he's learning then how can we ever teach him by using examples of magickal issues either good or bad as what to do, or what not to do?  We cannot live in fear that if we don’t patronize a student's bad behavior then they’ll run off and talk to the first person they meet about everything. We have tried hard in the A.’.A.’. to weed out those individuals at an early stage who don’t understand this issue. Those individuals, who don’t like certain things about the Order and who, without getting satisfaction to have things done ‘their’ way, seek outsiders to vomit their disdain. This has always created issues in every fraternity both horizontal and vertical since the dawn of time.

The recent issues with one particular student which caused his expulsion is the very first time in Grady McMurtry’s A.’.A.’. where we’ve ever had to deal with this problem; for that we are thankful. We have a great group of initiates. However, what we haven’t posted on our blog are all the issues his ‘badmouthing’ has caused behind the scenes. Because, in truth, this is no one’s business.

But his actions are lessons to learn for all our students. First, don’t cross the planes - “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” – Matthew 22:21.

Second, if you don’t like the Order or the way a vertical or Inner School works, do the honorable thing, and simply resign. There is no shame in acknowledging that what you’ve gotten into is not for you ...

Love is the law, love under will. AL I-57
Frater AO583


The following was posted on our blog on
Sunday July 12th 2009



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