December 24, 1909, to May 14, 1910
Frater V.I.O. started off bravely enough. As soon as he had read the first number of The Equinox, and before he got into touch with any Member of the A∴A∴ he made an attempt at Asana. The earliest record I can find reads as follows:
Thursday, Nov. 4th, 1909. 11:20 P.M. to 11:41 P.M.
Asana. Position I. The God.
Inclination for back to bend, just above hips, had to straighten up several times.
Opened eyes once and moved head, after about five minutes.
Breathed fairly regularly after the first few minutes, counting 9 in, holding 4, 9 out, holding 4.
Saw various colours in clouds, and uncertain figures, during the latter part of the time.
On December 19th his practice lasted 46 minutes. He hoped to do 60 minutes next time. But he does not appear to have done so, for after signing his Probationer's Oath on December 24th I find no record till January 11th, 1910, E.V., the day he received his first written instructions from his Neophyte, Frater P.A. As those instructions represent the basis upon which he worked for a considerable period, I shall include them here, in spite of the fact that it may have been out of order for him to work on definite instructions at all, since the Probationer is supposed to choose for himself those practices which please him best, and to experiment therewith for himself. Since however he did not know this at the time, he cannot be blamed for doing his best along the lines laid down by his Neophyte.
In any case he might have done far worse than to strive to carry out these few simple rules which are as follows:
- Ever be moderate and follow the middle path; rather be the tortoise than the hare; do not rush wildly into anything; but do not abandon what you have taken up, without much forethought.
- Always keep your body and mind in a healthy and fit condition; and never carry out an exercise, whether mental or physical, when you are fatigued.
- In an ideal country the hours in which to practice are: at sunrise, sunset, noon and midnight (and always before a meal never immediately after one). As this cannot be done with comfort, in this country (England), let your chief practice take place an hour or half an hour before your breakfast hour.
- If possible set apart a room wherein to carry out your exercises; keep it clean, and only keep in it objects which please you; burn a little incense in the room before beginning an exercise; keep the room holy to yourself, and do not allow yourself or another to do anything unbalanced in thought or action in it. In will indeed make this room a temple and a symbol of that greater Temple which is your higher self.
The First Exercise
Rise to time, and without undue haste, wash and dress, robe yourself and enter the room you have set apart; burn a little incense and turning to the East repeat some simple orison such as: "May the light of Adonai arise within me, may it guide me through this day and be as a lamp to lighten my darkness." Then make a general confession, as shortly as possible, of your last day's work and enter it in your diary, after which sit down in a comfortable position and do the following.
With your hands upon your knees and your head straight, take in a breath in measured time inwards and concentrate the whole of your thought on that breath as it flows into your lungs, cutting away all other thoughts that may arise at the time; then exhale the breath, still keeping your thought fixed on it. Do this for some ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, and mark down in your diary the number of "breaks," or any result. The whole of this practice must be performed rhythmically and harmoniously.
The Second Exercise
As the rush of daily work tends to undo what the morning exercise has done, try your utmost to turn every item of your professional work into a magical exercise. Do all, even the smallest work, in honour and glory of Adonai: excel in your special duties in life, because He is of you, and you of Him; do not think of Him as Adonai, but think of Adonai as the work; and of your daily work create a symbol of the Symbol of "The Great Work which is TO BE."
The Third Exercise
As the rush of your daily work tends to unbalance you, so do the pleasures you indulge in. Cultivate joyfulness in all your amusements; and, when joyful, break out into silent and inward praise of the joy within you. Do not make a prudish exercise of it, work silently and joyously, and do not discuss your results with casual friends. And above all do everything for the honour and glory of Adonai, so that of your daily pleasures you may construct a symbol of that Unchanging Joy that IS.
These instructions were accompanied by a letter from which I quote the following: "The enclosed exercises perform regularly, say to yourself: 'I will do these for three months; even if I get no benefit from them, yet I am determined to do them.' Write to me whenever you like, but don't consider any result that you may get as worth much; for these little exercises are only to produce an equilibrium which is essential before really setting out. If you add any exercise of your own then do it at a definite hour daily and do it continuously; to take up an exercise and then drop it is worse than useless, for it is unbalancing."
Now, as any Probationer knows, as soon as one sets out to do the simplest task regularly and with magical intent, that task becomes not only difficult, but well nigh impossible of performance. This is just what V.I.O. found, and no sooner had his task been set than all kinds of difficulties presented themselves, like the dog-faced demons mentioned by Zoroaster, to prevent its fulfilment. He tried, but at the end of January he writes: "I cannot get on under these conditions. Had plenty of time to do exercises this morning, but was continually interrupted. Did not robe myself as I have no place fit to call a temple." How little did he know at that time how well off he really was in the latter respect! He was living in comfort in a Kensington Flat with every convenience of civilization; a few years later he was glad to do Asana and perform his meditations out in the rain, clad in pyjamas, because his tiny tent in British Columbia was too small to allow of work inside. But we digress. At this point his record breaks off abruptly. He remained in London until May of 1910, when circumstances arose which made it possible for him to visit British Columbia.
Armed then with his instruction paper, The Equinox, and a few Occult books, he sailed for Canada, alone, to start again in new and unploughed fields.
 It is presumptuous for a Neophyte to lay down rules; for (a) he cannot possibly know what his Probationer needs, having no record to guide him; (b) the Probationer's task is to explore his own nature, not to follow any prescribed course. A third objection is that by putting the Probationer in Corsets, an entirely flabby person may sneak through his year, and become a Neophyte, to the shame of the Order. But this objection is theoretical; for Initiation is overseen from the Third Order, where no Error may endure. —O.M.