Friday, July 21, 2017

Remembering Golden Dawn Matriarch - Cris Monnastre (1946-2017)


On the day I met Cris Monnastre, at my request we met for the first time directly at the tomb of Israel Regardie at Forrest Lawn Cemetery. I was completing a Spell as I had just returned from Europe, where in Berlin I likewise paid my respects at the tomb of the only Rosicrucian Imperator who was also a Prussian King, Frederick Willhem II.

The contrast could not be more dramatic from the Crypt of the Dom Church in Berlin to the sunshine of Forest Lawn cemetery.

As much as I had gone over and over this moment in my mind, nothing could have prepared me for the impact of actually meeting Cris Monnastre weeping at Israel Regardie’s tomb. The raw power of the moment was archetypal, like the Madonna weeping at the tomb of slain Christ. Years later, at my initiation by her hand as a Minor Adept, I would come also to understand the deeper Rosicrucian significance of this symbolism.

This was one of those rare meetings - pregnant with destiny - that could shape the face of Magick for years if not for decades to come.

It certainly shaped the face of Magick for me. Cris Monnastre was a stern Master. She insisted that every exam be completed to perfection along the way. And yet she was the most insightful initiator I have ever met as well. In all of my initiations in ensuing years, even when she did not have enough officers for the higher grades, Cris Monnastre put me through every initiation ritual - always in full form.

Cris Monnastre was not one to cut corners and she wanted me to receive the full benefits of traditional Golden Dawn initiation that had been denied to her. My critics have over the years tried to minimize the influence of Cris Monnastre on the modern Golden Dawn. Llewellyn would even try to write her out of history altogether by removing her famous introduction to Israel Regardie’s “The Golden Dawn.”

Not that she minded. Patricia Behman had always used a pseudonym for her esoteric pursuits, since she worked as a psychologist for child protective services in California. She therefore always liked to keep a low profile about her occult pursuits.

When Cris Monnastre learned Golden Dawn Magick, she did not have the benefit of working temples as there were none left active at the time. She took her 0=0 in a GD oriented group led by Stephan Hoeller. Rather than put Pat through the elemental grades, Regardie did what he called a “magical retirement” together with her in the late 1980s.

In this magical retirement, Israel Regardie and Cris Monnastre, performed an “Opening by Watchtower” ritual together each and every Sunday for a period of 9 months, each time with the same intention for “The rebirth of the Golden Dawn in the USA”. This powerful rite invokes the powers of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Spirit all of the elements together.

Judging by the state of the Golden Dawn today, I would say that this magic al retirement was a huge success.

Although others may disagree, I therefore consider Israel Regardie and Cris Monnastre to be the parents of the modern Hermetic Golden Dawn rebirth. Although the GD is not and was never a religion, to try to write Cris Monnastre and her importance out of modern GD history is tantamount to trying to remove the Virgin Mary from the Gospels.

I met Cris Monnastre in 1992. At the time, she had formed a triad of Chiefs with Chic Cicero and Adam Forrest who had temples in Florida and in Oregon at the time. She had met them when she travelled with Regardie to Georgia to consecrate Cicero’s Vault of the Adepti, for Regardie to give CM her Adeptus Minor initiation.

Apparently there were tensions between Behman, Cicero, and Forrest even before I arrived on the scene. Cris Monnastre never talked to me openly about why, but she forbade me to have any contact with Chic or Adam whatsoever until it was absolutely necessary. Clearly, she was mistrustful of Chic and Adam or their motives already when she met me.

It was not until my Portal initiation that I finally did meet Chic Cicero. I found him quite charming in a gruff New York sort of way and was looking forward to getting to know him better. Once back in Los Angeles, however, CM reiterated the importance that I have no further contact with him at all until my Adeptus Minor initiation. She clearly had something in mind.

What that was became clear in ensuing months, as CM made extraordinary demands of me during my Portal grade. She insisted that I prepare not only my Adeptus Minor thesis, but also that I prepare for and pass all of the requirements of ZAM, the subgrade required to operate a temple in her organization.

In January, 1994, I received my obligation as an Adeptus Minor under the light of a 7 planet conjunction with Cris Monnastre as Chief Adept and the other Chiefs of the order as officers. Immediately following my 5=6, Cris Monnastre advanced me to the ZAM sub-grade and gave me a charter for a temple in Stockholm, Sweden.

The following day Cris Monnastre and Chic Cicero had an argument, apparently over pizza, then continued in private for almost an hour.

I have no idea what transpired between the two of them in that room, but when she returned Cirs Monnastre said to me:

“David. Pack your stuff We are leaving” I said “OK” and we left. Having returned to Los Angeles a day early, I spent the night at Cris Monnastre’s home that night. She spoke with Chic on the phone who reportedly said to her she "must either void that charter or else”.

That night, while sleeping soundly in Cris Monnastre's Son’s room, I was suddenly awakened by flying books and debris, followed by the vision of the walls an ceiling twisting before my eyes.

We had just lived through the Northridge earthquake!

As it turns out, the Northridge earthquake showed in the outer world the tectonic forces shifting beneath the surface of the Golden Dawn.

Later that morning, we finally found a phone that worked and Cris Monnastre again called Chic Cicero:

After only a few seconds on the phone she hung up, looked up to me, and said: “I have been resigned.”

“What," I said. "Did you or did you not resign?" "No, I did not resign” she said, "but they have already told everyone that I did, so what difference does that make?"

I tried to convince CM she should fight and that I would help to defend her honor. “No," she said, “It is better that I simply replace them as Chiefs since they "de facto" resigned themselves anyway. She made me Imperator immediately and eventually Jean-Pascal Ruggiu of the Ahathoor temple in Paris the Third Chief.

In 1994, Cris Monnastre appointed me Imperator of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. So there I was, a freshly baked Minor Adept, when destiny catapulted me into the role of Rosicrucian Imperator.

In ensuing years, Pat grew less and less interested in Magick, and more interested in Christian Mysticism. When she decided to move on to more mystical spiritual pursuits in 1996, Cris Monnastre passed to me her Golden Dawn trademark rights together with Israel Regardie's elemental tools, Enochian Chess set, and his personal Rose+Cross that he had inherited from Elsa Barker.

Israel Regardie's Air Dagger
From Cris Monnastre

Elsa Barker, a gifted poet, was S.L. MacGregor Mathers personal envoy to the Alpha et Omega temples in America. She travelled frequently between France and the U.S.A. In many ways, it was Elsa Barker who brought the light of the Golden Dawn to America.

Elsa Barker
I remained, of course, fiercely loyal to Cris Monnastre, and did my best to protect her interests in the schism and ensuing legal agreement negotiation.

David Griffin Wearing Elsa Barker's Rose Cross
From Cris Monnastre

But still, schisms are terrible things.

For me, the schism of 1994 was quite terrible, not unlike what children must go through in any divorce.

Things were made more complex by Cris Monnastre’s need for discretion about her esoteric involvement.

Out of sheer loyalty to Pat Behman I have never written about these things publicly before.

But now that Pat is gone there is something I finally feel free to say once and for all.

Allthough I remained thoroughout fiercely loyal to Cris Monnastre I always did feel soomewhat torn between her and Chic Cicero.

I also know that many other Golden Dawn initiates have likewise felt torn between leaders or been hurt by schisms.

Therefore, I end this remembrance of Cris Monnastre with a request I know Pat Behman would heartily approve of:

With the passing of Cris Monnastre, one of our great Golden Dawn luminaries, I ask you to join me in prayer for healing - for our community - and for our nation.

In abundance, power, and truth,
David Griffin