The Great Work, for Zelator, is defined as "gaining control of the foundations of my own being." By "foundations" is meant the Automatic Consciousness.
"Zelator" is a Latin word meaning "a zealous person." In the old order of the Golden Dawn, it was the name of Grade 1 = 10, and was described as meaning "Zealous Student," whose first duty was to blow the Athanor, or fire that warmed the Alchemist's Crucible. In the A∴A∴, the official comment on the name of the degree is given in Liber 185: "Let him be aware that the word Zelator is not a term in vain, but that a certain Zeal will be inflamed within him, when he least wait."
In the ancient Golden Dawn, "Zelator" was also the first-degree name of his Second Order, Zelator Adeptus Minor. This is the main reason why the title was given to 2 = 9 of A∴A∴. The Zelator Ceremony of A∴A∴ is equivalent to the initiation of 5 = 6 of the ancient Golden Dawn.
The Liber 185 describes the procedure to advance to a neonate degree of Zelator:
That any Neophyte who has completed his task to the satisfaction of A. · .A. ·. be instructed in the proper direction of procedure: which is: -
Let him read from beginning to end this note of his function, and sign it, paying the amount of Three Guineas for the volume containing Liber CCXX , Liber XXVII, and Liber DCCCXIII , which will be given to him in his initiation.
May he make the necessary additions to his Neophyte robe, and entrust the same to the care of his Zelator.
Let him make an appointment with his Zelator to the pleasure of the latter for the Initiation ceremony.
The third of the "three volumes of the Book" is presented to the aspirant. It contains three Holy Thelemic Books: The Book of the Law, Liber Trigrammaton , and Liber Ararita .
The robe of a Zelator is that of a Neophyte with the addition of a silver "Eye of Horus" on the forehead part of the hood.
"Finally he goes through the CXX Ritual, which makes him a Zelator." ( Liber 13 )
Ritual CXX, the Zelator initiation ceremony, is alternatively called Liber Cadaveris ("The Book of the Corpse") and Passing Through the Tuat . Four days are required for this initiation.
Zelator. - Your main job is to achieve complete success in Asana and Pranayama. ( One Star to the Sight ).
INTERPRETATION: Central to the mystery of Yesod and Grade 2 = 9 is the idea that "change is stability and stability is change". It is the main task of the initiate of Yesod to create a foundation of stability. While the nature of the Neophyte Degree was to "volatilize the fixed," that of the Degree of Zelator is to "fix the volatile." The techniques to achieve this are the practices of yoga asana and pranayama.
Asana is posture. Pranayama is literally "the control of prana", effected through the control of the breath. Liber E is the primary instruction for this. The Zelator Curriculum also includes a more extensive instruction in pranayama, Liber RV vel Spiritis .
Examinations in both practices are objective. De Liber 185 :
He must pass Exams in Liber E, Posture and Breath. He must have achieved complete success in the previous, that is, the posture chosen should be perfectly firm and easy; and reached the second stage therein, i.e., automatic stiffness.
Liber E (Chapter III, v. 9) embellishes the former:
When you have progressed to the point where a dish filled to the brim with water and balanced over your head does not shed a drop for an entire hour, and when you fail to notice the slightest muscle tremor; when, in short, you are perfectly stable and easy, you will be admitted for examination ...
In addition, he forges the Magic Sword. ( Liber 13 )
An additional level in which "magic blade forging" can be understood is found in Liber 185:
He must by all means establish perfect control of his Automatic Consciousness according to the advice of his Practicus, for the ordeal of advancement is not light.
The first of these practices, MMM, called "The Illumination of the Sphere," is a meditation reenactment of the internal operation of the Neophyte Ceremony, Ritual DCLXXI. It is assigned to the Resh Path.
The second of these practices, AAA, called "The Passage of the King's Chamber," corresponds (as a meditative practice, rather than ceremonial) to the process of Zelator's Ceremony, Ritual CXX. It is assigned to the Shin Path.
He also begins to study the Rose-Cross formula. ( One Star to the Sight ).
INTERPRETATION: This line is subject to be understood in diverse degrees and intimate, very personal forms. What follows in this section, except for direct quotation, should be understood primarily as suggestive. Zelator is encouraged to discuss this with your Practicus.
[In Yesod] he knew that his body was the Temple of the Rose-Cross, that is, that it was given to him as a place where to perform the Magical Work of uniting the oppositions in his Nature. (Master Therion)
An important perspective can be gained by observing that while the Zelator "begins to study" this formula, only Adeptus Minor Interno - one who has attained the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel - is admitted to the practice of the Rose-Cross formula when entering the College of the Holy Spirit ". By definition, only Adeptus Minor Interno is allowed to practice this Rosicrucian formula that the Zelator begins to study.
Aleister Crowley, in several places, summed up, saying that the Rose-Cross is formulated in the "annihilation of the self in the Beloved."
In addition to all this, he should apply himself to working for A. · .A. ·. under his own responsibility. ( Liber 185 )
He should memorize a chapter of Liber CCXX ... ( Liber 185 )
Liber CCXX is Liber Legis, the Book of the Law.
He may at any time withdraw from his association with A. · .A. ·. simply notifying Practicus who introduced it. Even though he remembers that being in this way on the Path, he can not escape it, and return to the world, but to the City of Pyramids or the solitary towers of the Abyss. ( Liber 185 )
There is no minimum time in the Degree of Zelator: "The Zelator shall proceed to the degree of Practicus at any time that the authority bestows it" ( Liber 185 ). "One month after his admission to the Degree he should go to his Practicus, pass the necessary tests, and repeat to him his chosen chapter of Liber CCXX."
"No ritual admits to the degree of Practicus, which is conferred by authority when the task of Zelator is performed." ( Liber XIII )
"When the authority bestows the degree, he shall rejoice in it, but beware, for this is the first departure from the middle pillar of the Tree of Life." (Liber 185)