The Golden Dawn FAQ

December 1999, Version 6.0



Version 6.0, December 1999

Created and Maintained by
Steven R. Cranmer ( from 1993 through early 1999.
Now maintained and updated by Al Billings (
Copyright Steven R. Cranmer, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
Copyright Steven R. Cranmer & Albert Billings, 1999

The master version of this document is available at the Golden Dawn Library Project at
Please copy it from this location if you wish to use it.

The authors grant the right to copy and distribute this file, provided that it remains unmodified, the original authorship and copyright is retained, and that it not be incorporated into any redistributed or commercial publication without the authors' knowledge. ``Modification'' here includes the reformatting of the file into other types, such as PDF. The authors retains both the right and intention to modify and extend this document.


I. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is the Golden Dawn?
  2. Is the Golden Dawn a religion?
  3. Is the hierarchy of grades merely a ruse to empower the ``enlightened?''
  4. Are Golden Dawn Temples still active? How can I become a member?
  5. How is the Golden Dawn connected with the Rosicrucians?
  6. How is the Golden Dawn connected with Freemasonry?
  7. Who was Israel Regardie?
  8. What connection did Aleister Crowley have with the Golden Dawn?
  9. How does one get started?
II. A Brief History of the Golden Dawn
III. Golden Dawn Minutae
IV. List of Active Golden Dawn Temples and Related Organizations
V. Useful References

I. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


(1) What is the Golden Dawn?

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is an initiatory society devoted to spiritual, philosophical, and magical development. The ideas studied by Golden Dawn initiates are a unique combination of Jewish Kabbalah, ancient Egyptian and Greek mysteries, several strands of Christianity, and many other Western esoteric traditions. To quote its ``history lecture,'' (from Israel Regardie's book, The Golden Dawn),

``The Order of the G.D. [Golden Dawn] is an Hermetic Society whose members are taught the principles of Occult Science and the Magic of Hermes.''

The Golden Dawn was founded in 1887 by three British Freemasons (see the brief history in Part II, below), and it admitted hundreds of men and women over the next several decades. The original Golden Dawn generated a body of esoteric knowledge about Hermetic magic, divination, alchemy, and philosophy that is unparalleled to this day. Traditions as seemingly different as Chaos Magic and Gardnerian Wicca have roots in the Golden Dawn, and it has been of profound influence in the lives of artists (e.g., the poet W. B. Yeats, the author Arthur Machen) and scholars (e.g., A. E. Waite). The fascinating spiritual mysteries taught by the Golden Dawn continue to have a profound impact on people from all walks of life.

The Golden Dawn ``system of magic'' is a tool designed to educate the student of the esoteric in both practical matters of ritual and divination, and in abstract metaphysical ideas. The focus of the Golden Dawn material is primarily Western - i.e., Judeo-Christian, Greek, and Egyptian - but some Eastern ideas have crept in over the years. It is a ``hierarchical'' or ``matricular'' system, in that certain information is reserved for students who have passed beyond a certain point in their occult education. The system of grades is as follows (along with their correspondences with the classical elements, the seven ancient planets, and the ten ``sephiroth'' or spiritual ``spheres'' of the Jewish Kabbalah), with the student beginning at the top:

Order Grade Grade Name Element Planet Sephira
0 = 0 Neophyte --- --- ---
1 = 10 Zelator Earth --- Malkuth (Kingdom)
2 = 9 Theoricus Air Moon Yesod (Foundation)
3 = 8 Practicus Water Mercury Hod (Splendour)
4 = 7 Philosophus Fire Venus Netzach (Victory)
5 = 6 Adeptus Minor Spirit Sun Tiphareth (Beauty)
6 = 5 Adeptus Major --- Mars Gevurah (Might)
7 = 4 Adeptus Exemptus --- Jupiter Chesed (Mercy)
8 = 3 Magister Templi --- Saturn Binah (Understanding)
9 = 2 Magus --- --- Chokmah (Wisdom)
10 = 1 Ipsissimus --- --- Kether (Crown)

The grades of Neophyte through Philosophus comprise the First, or Outer Order. A grade called the ``Portal'' comes between 4=7 and 5=6, and this contains some very powerful symbolism on the transition between the Outer and Inner ``Mysteries.'' The three Adept grades comprise the Second, or Inner Order (Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis), and are normally only open to those who pass rigorous examinations and are chosen on other qualifications. The final three grades (which refer to the ``Supernal'' sephiroth) comprise the Third, or Hidden Order of Masters. There is considerable disagreement among Order sources as to whether living human beings can attain these final mystical grades (not unlike the Bodhisattvas of Buddhism, it seems).

Please note that the above is just a brief summary, and that many details have been omitted for the sake of clarity. For more information, many of the books and articles listed in the Reference section can be of assistance, as can some of the World Wide Web sites associated with Active Golden Dawn Temples.

Some may wonder why people would want to pursue their spiritual goals via the antiquated, or even superstitious, means of ceremonial magic. Mary K. Greer, in Women of the Golden Dawn, notes that there are several different definitions of magic that have different connotations:

``While some writers have regarded magic as psycho-therapeutic work (Francis King and Israel Regardie, for example), others have characterized it as the discovery of the unity within all duality, the truth behind all illusions. W. B. Yeats sought knowledge of what he called `the single energetic Mind,' and its pole, `the single Memory of nature,' both of which he believed could be evoked by symbols. But I like Florence Farr's definition of magic best: `Magic is unlimiting experience.' That is, magic consists of removing the limitations from what we think are the earthly and spiritual laws that bind or compel us. We can be anything because we are All.''


(2) Is the Golden Dawn a religion?

Definitely not. Although religious and metaphysical concepts are the focus of much of the Golden Dawn material, ``there is nothing contrary to your civil, moral, or religious duties'' (to quote the Neophyte initiation ceremony) in any oaths or Order matters. This is a landmark that seems to have been passed down from Freemasonry, one of the primary sources of the Golden Dawn initiatory structure. However, an overall notion of religious tolerance pervades the Golden Dawn, for one is also reminded (in the same ceremony), to ``Remember that you hold all Religions in reverence, for there is none but contains a Ray from the Ineffable Light that you are seeking.''

(Note: My source for the text of the above oaths/obligations comes from Regardie's published account of Stella Matutina ceremonies, The Golden Dawn. Some modern groups most probably have changed some parts of these obligations - especially the parts that deal with keeping the rituals, membership, and even the existence of the Order completely secret. It is always a good idea, of course, to inquire about these things before pursuing membership in any organization. See Question 3, below.)

For those who would decry all things ``occult'' as Satanic and/or pagan, know that the higher degrees of the Golden Dawn seem to grow more and more Christian in character as one climbs the hierarchy of grades. The influence of the Rosicrucians, a mystical/mythical Christian organization dating from the 17th century, is strong indeed (see Question 5). For those who shy away from the often-overbearing aegis of Christendom, don't despair, as there is enough symbolism present in the Golden Dawn material to satisfy nearly any taste. Jewish Kabbalah, Islam, Hinduism, the Egyptian and Greek Mysteries, and even the Celtic mythos have all been integrated into Golden Dawn work at one time or another.

One final disclaimer: While this author heartily believes that religious partisanship has no place in the Golden Dawn, this is by no means the only opinion. Some Golden Dawn groups, for example, are said to explicitly bar Thelemites (see Question 8) from membership in their Second Order. If anyone can verify this position, or provide any other similar ones, I would like to know, and would make such implicit requirements known in Part IV, below.


(3) Is the hierarchy of grades merely a ruse to empower the ``enlightened?''

Well, even Magical Orders are made up of human beings, and some inevitably take advantage of the ``faithful.'' This can come in many guises: expensive dues for a trickle of information, out-and-out lies about magical powers or ancient sources, forced therapy before advancement, uncomfortable initiations, or expulsion if one holds a differing viewpoint. As with anything else, place your caveat firmly in your emptor before taking any action.

However, the concept of the hierarchy of grades has its definite merits. First of all, consider the parallels with education in general. One must first learn ones' alphabet before learning to read; and learn to read before understanding Tom Sawyer, let alone Finnegans Wake. Also, training in magic necessarily involves an exploration of different modes and areas of ones' own consciousness, the experiencing of which can very well be jolting, frightening, or even life-threatening. Some aspects of the psyche are best left unexplored until one develops the tools and stamina necessary for the journey.

The issue of secrecy is an F.A.I. (Frequently Argued Issue) in many forums on and off the Internet, and for the most part, most of the original Golden Dawn ``secrets'' have already been (or are in the process of being) published. However, it still comes up often enough to address a few points. Why keep certain things secret, you may ask? Well...


All things considered, however, secrecy is something which should certainly be left up to each individual. To quote alt.magick's resident terminator, Tyagi Nagasiva, ``There are very many good reasons for secrecy, and very few for requiring it.''


(4) Are Golden Dawn Temples still active? How can I become a member?

Yes, there are Temples still thriving, from the U.S.A. to New Zealand. See Part IV, the list of active Golden Dawn Temples and related organizations, below.

Becoming a member of a magical order, however, is something that should not be taken lightly. An insightful study of many of the pro's and con's was published by Donald Michael Kraig in an article called ``So you want to join a Magical Order...'' in The Llewellyn New Times (May-June 1992, no. 923). A few general things to note, however:



(5) How is the Golden Dawn connected with the Rosicrucians?

The Golden Dawn's own ceremonies claim a descent (in spirit if not a direct lineage) with the Rosicrucians, a mystic Christian organization that may, or may not have ``existed'' in the strictest sense of the word. A short history of Rosicrucianism in in order.

In about the year 1610, an anonymous document entitled Fama Fraternitatis of the Meritorious Order of the Rosy Cross was distributed among German occultists, and was printed at Cassel in 1614. It describes the founding of a secret order of enlightened learning in the Hermetic and Christian mysteries. The (mythical) life story of the founder, C.R.C. (Christian Rosenkreutz) is related, as well as the discovery of his wondrous tomb centuries later. A second manifesto, Confessio Fraternitatis (1615), describes the Rosicrucian Order in more detail, and firmly takes sides against the Papacy. A third document, The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, is an interesting alchemical fantasy, probably written by Lutheran pastor Johann Valentine Andreae in his impetuous youth, but with little to do with the previous documents.

The publication of these documents met an eager public, and many published their scholarly and religious ``credentials'' hoping to get noticed and chosen for membership. After about twenty years, however, this fervor seemingly died down. It wasn't until the late 1600s and early 1700s that hints of Rosicrucianism began to reappear, and the Rosicrucian egregore seemed to find a home in Freemasonry. From England to Russia, Masonic/Rosicrucian groups flourished in the late 1700s, and the most well-known were the Gold- und Rosenkreutzers in Germany. Again, however, this activity seemed to fade into the background until the late 1800s, with the popular revival of esotericism and the occult in England. The Masonic Societas Rosicruciana described below (Part II) was the immediate precursor of the Golden Dawn, but no known direct connection is known with the original 17th century Rosicrucians.

In the 20th century, there has been a virtual explosion of groups claiming the Rosicrucian mantle, and it is quite wisely that the Adeptus Minor of the G.D. is warned to be wary of ``strangers'' claiming to be members of the Rosicrucian Order - especially those that claim that their group is the only Rosicrucian Order. This author agrees with Paul Foster Case's assessment that the ``True and Invisible'' Rosicrucian Order is a shared ``state of mind,'' not an actual organized society. Thus, any historical links between Rosicrucianism and the Golden Dawn seem to be much less important than the fact that many members of the G.D. have been and are in touch with the ``soul'' or egregore of the Rosy Cross.

Ex Deo nascimur, in Jesu morimur, per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus.

(6) How is the Golden Dawn connected with Freemasonry?

The Golden Dawn was founded by three Freemasons (Mathers, Woodman, and Westcott) and contains a great deal of Masonically derived symbolism, but has no formal connection with Freemasonry or any of its appendant bodies.

Like in the case of many other ``fringe'' or ``occult'' societies founded in the later years of the 19th century, the founders of the Golden Dawn adapted the existing allegorical and dramatic framework of Masonic ceremonies when constructing the G.D. In the Outer Order, both the layout of the Temple and the functions of Officers seem to closely mirror those of the Blue Lodge of Masonry. The names of the grades, as well as the titles bestowed upon initiates, were taken from those of the 18th century Masonic Gold- und Rosenkreutzers. In the Inner Order, the Rosicrucian drama enacted in the initiation rituals is reminiscent of that in the ``Rose Croix'' degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, and is certainly related to the ceremonies of the Masonic Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, from which the Golden Dawn was indirectly spawned.

Some scholars have suggested that there is a more direct connection between the Golden Dawn and Masonry: a historical one, via a possible source of the mysterious ``Cipher Manuscripts'' which Westcott and Mathers used to construct the Outer Order rituals. Several sources have alluded to the existence of little-known Masonic groups in the early 19th century which have an eerie similarity with the Golden Dawn. Specifically, there have been two (possibly related, possibly identical) possibilities:

  1. The Loge zur aufgehenden Morgenrothe, a Masonic Lodge in Frankfurt with a primarily Jewish membership. Referred to in French as the Aurore naissante, (both titles meaning ``Rising Dawn''), this group was founded by three Masons connected with the Rite of Strict Observance of von Hund. In 1817, a subsidiary Lodge was formed in London by the Duke of Sussex, the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. In 1822, it was closed by an Anton Wolf, who might have been a representative from the Mother Lodge in Frankfurt.


  2. A Qabalistic College in London, also known as the Chabrath Zerek Aour Bokher (``Society of the Shining Light of the Dawn''), formed around 1810 by a Johannes Friedrich Falk, from Hamburg, Germany. Mentioned mainly by Kenneth Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaeida, this organization might not actually have existed.

Both of these supposed London-based Lodges have been argued to be the infamous second ``Hermanoubis'' Temple of the Golden Dawn. The Cipher Manuscripts, which were probably written circa 1860-1870, are similarly argued to have come indirectly from one of these groups, via such varied persons as Kenneth Mackenzie, Lord Bulwer-Lytton, or Frederick Hockley. Further research is definitely required to prove any of these hypotheses. For more information, see:

Gilbert, R. A., 1990,
``Provenance Unknown: A Tentative Solution to the Riddle of the Cipher Manuscript of the Golden Dawn,'' in Wege und Abwege: Beitraege zur europaeischen Geistesgeschichte der Neuzeit, ed. A. Goetz von Olenhusen (Freiburg: Hochschul Verlag), p. 79.


Heisler, R. 1989,
``Precursors of the Golden Dawn,'' in Cauda Pavonis: Studies in Hermeticism, v. 8, no. 1, 1-4.


Kuntz, Darcy. 1996,
The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscipt (Edmonds, Washington: Holmes Publishing Group). [Reprints Gilbert's article listed above.]


Prinke, R. T. 1987,
``The Deeper Roots of the Golden Dawn,'' in The Hermetic Journal, 36, 16.

(7) Who was Israel Regardie?

Dr. Francis Israel Regardie (17 Nov 1907 - 10 Mar 1985, motto Ad Maiorem Adonai Gloriam, or ``To the greatness of the Lord'') was a relative latecomer in the Golden Dawn, joining Felkin's Hermes Temple of the Stella Matutina in about 1934. He is most infamously known for publishing The Golden Dawn a few years later, thereby breaking his oath of secrecy. Every Order ritual, from 0=0 to 5=6, was included, along with many of the original ``knowledge lectures'' and ``flying rolls'' (instructional manuscripts) written by Mathers and Westcott.

Although initially spurned by his G.D. peers, lately Regardie has been seemingly vindicated. The publishing of the Order material in a relatively complete form has certainly kept the Golden Dawn from being lost to the mists of time. Many of the modern G.D. Orders claim an ``apostolic succession'' through Regardie, so it seems he has been sufficiently forgiven. During the last few years of his life, he authorized a few different Golden Dawn groups to carry on his work (see Part IV).

Recently, Regardie's role in the propagation of Golden Dawn documents has been called into question. Bill Heidrick, the Grand Treasurer General of the O.T.O., wrote on 14 April 1994:

``Regardie's Golden Dawn was a joint enterprise between Israel Regardie and Gerald Yorke. Yorke supplied the materials, as Francis (I. Regardie) told me himself. Yorke had warning from his family as far back as the days of Equinox Vol.I never to allow publicity of his connections with either Crowley or the Golden Dawn. This is not surprising in that the family was and is not very far removed from the succession to the British throne. When G.D. was to be published this ban was serious enough for Gerald to act as a silent partner and unannounced co-author with Francis. Toward the end of his life Gerald did relax his privacy a little, to the extent of taking an occasional ``bow'' in print and supporting Ellic Howe with an intro to The Magicians of the Golden Dawn. The largest public collection of Golden Dawn and Crowley MSS is the Yorke collection in the Warburg Institute at the University of London. That is Gerald's collection, fortified with materials provided by Karl Germer.''

Although Yorke probably helped Regardie track down papers for the later book, The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, it is difficult to assess his impact on the earlier published materials. Regardie's own initiatory status in the 1930s has also been under dispute. He claimed that he was an Adept (5=6) of the Hermes Temple, but some have claimed that he could not have achieved this degree in the short time he was a member. However, several recent letters and papers have been found (and posted to the Usenet news group alt.magick) which indicate clearly that Regardie had received the 5=6 grade from the Hermes Temple. Hopefully this material will be published eventually in a complete and permanent form.

Some claim that Regardie, later in life, attained the higher degrees of 6=5 and 7=4, and was glad to finally receive true initiation (contrasted to the ceremonies of the ``Inepti'' at Hermes Temple). Harvey Newstrom, a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn that Regardie sponsored in the 1980s, wrote on 18 April 1994:

``Regardie was given a certificate of 6=5 after visiting New Zealand. This was an honorary degree that was intended to show respect and affirmation of Regardie's work. Regardie was not a member of the New Zealand branch of the G:.D:., he did not study from them, he did not undergo examination from them nor did he demonstrate the completion of the requisites for that level. Most importantly, Regardie still maintained the title, signatures, magical insignia, and other ensigns of office as appropriate for his actual level. He never upgraded his own assesment to claim any higher degrees. After Regardie's death, the New Zealand group also sent a 7=4 certificate filled out for Regardie. Dated after his death, this certificate certainly was an honorary one.''

Patrick Zalewski, in Secret Inner Order Rituals of the G.D., claims that Regardie ``...participated in a 6=5 ceremony as one of the Temple Officers'' during his visit to new Zealand in August 1983, but the issue of his initiatory status is left unclear. The certificate in question was reproduced in facsimile in early editions of The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic, and was dated 10 October 1984, before his death.

(8) What connection did Aleister Crowley have with the Golden Dawn?

Edward Alexander (Aleister) Crowley (1875-1947) joined the Isis-Urania Temple of the G.D. in November of 1898, and quickly advanced to the grade of Adeptus Minor by January of 1900. Crowley grew distasteful of the pretentious dealings between many of the members, and of the fact that many were initiated for no other reason than their ``worldly prosperity.''

His ``history lection'' (with the line numbers removed for readability) from Liber LXI vel Causae A.'.A.'. tells his side of the story:

``In 1900 one P., a brother, [Crowley, ``Perdurabo''] instituted a rigorous test of S.R.M.D. [Mathers] on the one side and the Order on the other. He discovered that S.R.M.D., though a scholar of some ability and a magician of remarkable powers, had never attained complete initiation: and further had fallen from his original place, he having imprudently attracted to himself forces of evil too great and terrible for him to withstand. The claim of the Order that the true adepts were in charge of it was definitely disproved. In the Order, with two certain exceptions and two doubtful ones, he found no persons prepared for initiation of any sort. He thereupon by his subtle wisdom destroyed both the Order and its chief.''

While the last statements certainly are not literally true (both the G.D. and Mathers long surviving Crowley's defection), it certainly sheds light on the ``birth'' of the Golden Dawn's first ``pseudo-messiah,'' as Gerald Yorke termed Crowley.

Crowley's subsequent magical work, too lengthy to describe completely here, was a unique and singular accomplishment. His reception of Liber AL vel Legis in Cairo in 1904 marked the beginning of a ``new aeon'' of the world, and of the religion/philosophy of Thelema. Many of the details of ritual and magical doctrine that Crowley continued to propagate, however, were intimately connected with his beginnings in the Golden Dawn.

The two primary esoteric Orders which Crowley either created or placed his unique imprint upon are the A.A. and the O.T.O. (Ordo Templi Orientis).

The A.A., which some claim stands for ``Astron Argon,'' ``Aster Argos,'' or ``Argentum Astrum'' (Greek and Latin for ``Silver Star''), was Crowley's idea of the ideal and individualized initiatory regimen. Most lineages (which usually are passed down on a one-on-one basis) follow the Golden Dawn-like grade system and magical/mystical ``curriculum'' set down in Crowley's ``One Star in Sight,'' which is in Magick in Theory and Practice. Also, the recently published Mystical and Magical System of the A.'.A.'., by James Eshelman, is a good source of information on this subject (see the Reference list, Part V, below).

The O.T.O. was founded in 1895 by Karl Kellner as a concretization of various Masonic rites, and also as a vehicle for the teaching of tantric-based based sexual magic. In 1922, Crowley took over as Outer Head of the Order (OHO), and modified its focus to conform to his ``new aeon'' Thelemic revelations. Although still an initiatory organization, the O.T.O. is concerned mainly with the social, economic, and interactive aspects of magic and Thelema, rather than on presenting an individualized system of spirituality (as is the regime of the A.A.). The O.T.O. today is at its largest size ever, with over 3000 members, and many of the active North American G.D. groups listed below have some cross-membership with the O.T.O.. Crowley's Equinox, especially the recently written Volume III, Number 10, is a good reference for the O.T.O., as is the Web site for the U.S. Grand Lodge.

(9) How does one get started?

First, there exist various other ``getting started'' documents on magic and esoteric spirituality posted to several Usenet news groups (e.g., alt.magick, alt.pagan, and many others), as well as on many Internet WWW and FTP sites. A good example is Christopher Ward's Notes to a Neophyte. Since the suggestions below come from a Golden Dawn point of view, these other more general documents may also be of interest.

Prior to the publication of most of the Golden Dawn material, the only real way to ``get started'' was by petitioning an active Temple, being accepted, and going through the Neophyte (0=0) initiation ceremony. While this is still an option, easy access to the bulk of the Golden Dawn material has opened up other, more solitary avenues of approach. What follow are two basic techniques (one meditative, one ceremonial) that have helped many to begin on the road to their ``Great Work.''

(A) The Neophyte Meditation

This exercise in concentration and stilling the mind contains two general components - breathing and visualization - but some helpful hints about relaxation and concentration might be in order first. Make yourself comfortable (sit or lay down) and try to relax the body. Starting at the feet, clench and release various muscles, and work up the body to the head and face. Think of your warm blood coursing through your body, enriching each part as it relaxes. If you fall asleep, that's fine, but you may want to find a better time of day to do this. Breathe from the abdomen, not the chest.

  1. Rhythmic Breathing: The ``fourfold breath'' is suggested for beginners:

    • inhale fully, while counting 1-2-3-4
    • hold the breath, while counting 1-2-3-4
    • exhale fully, while counting 1-2-3-4
    • hold the breath, while counting 1-2-3-4


  2. Visualization: From the First Knowledge Lecture (cf. Regardie's Golden Dawn),

    ``Let the Neophyte consider a point as defined in mathematics - having position, but no magnitude - and let him note the ideas to which this gives rise. Concentrating his faculties on this, as a focus, let him endeavor to realise the Immanance of the Divine throughout Nature, in all her aspects.''

    This ``primitive point'' (in Hebrew, NQVDH RAShVNH) can be fruitfully compared to the initial point of the creation of the universe, as is described in the Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment (translated below by Daniel Chanan Matt, NY: Paulist Press, 1983):

    ``A blinding spark flashed
    within the Concealed of the Concealed
    from the mystery of the Infinite,
    a cluster of vapor in formlessness,
    Deep within the spark gushed a flow
    imbuing colors below,
    concealed within the concealed of the mystery of the Infinite.
    The flow broke through and did not break through its aura.
    It was not known at all
    until, under the impact of breaking through,
    one high and hidden point shone.
    Beyond that point, nothing is known.
    So it is called Beginning,
    the first command of all.''

    A comparison can also be made to various modern scientific theories of the ``Big Bang,'' which is thought to have occurred within an infinitesimally small point which encompassed all of the present-day universe.

(B) The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP)
The ritual act of ``banishing'' stems from an old notion that magic must be performed in a purified environment, and that ``evil spirits'' (or undesired ``unconscious thought forms'') must first be told to vacate the premises. A more recent interpretation is that of delineating a ``sacred space'' at the beginning of a ritual, apart from the mundane world. The focus is often on a military-like attention to detail, which helps to construct this impregnable ``circle'' around the magician.

The following banishing ritual was given to Neophytes of the Golden Dawn to get them prepared and accustomed to dealing with the spiritual realm. It is also a frequently used component at the beginning and end of many rituals.

First, perform the Qabalistic Cross:

Next, while facing the East, trace a ``banishing pentagram of Earth,'' in the order 1-2-3-4-5-1, in the air in front of you:

banishing pentagram of earth

Simultaneously with tracing the pentagram, ``vibrate'' the Hebrew God-name IHVH.
Rotate clockwise, tracing out one quarter of a circle in the air with your dagger, and face South. Trace the pentagram again, and vibrate ADNI.
Rotate clockwise, and face West. Trace the pentagram again, and vibrate AHIH.
Rotate clockwise, and face North. Trace the pentagram again, and vibrate AGLA.
Rotate clockwise, and come back around to the East, closing the circle.

Upon completing the Circle, form a Great Cross (feet together, arms extended horizontally with with palms forward), close your eyes, and recite the archangelic powers stationed about the Circle:

``Before me, Raphael
Behind me, Gabriel
At my right hand, Michael
At my left hand, Auriel.

Before me flames the Pentagram -
Behind me shines the Six-Rayed Star.''

Follow with the Qabalistic Cross again, and you're finished.

An interesting analysis and interpretation of this ritual, along with some personal commentary as to its potential, is given below:


  From:       markk@cypress.West.Sun.COM (Mark Kampe)
  Subject:    a lesser banishing
  Newsgroups: alt.magick
  Date:       31 Oct 1994 16:45:34 GMT

  The words are widely known, but it occurred to me that I've never seen 
  a discussion of the melody and harmonies that give them meaning.  Surely,
  like the Tao, ``the tune that can be told is not the true tune.''  None,
  the less, I thought I would try to describe some of the experiences that
  have accompanied some of my attempts at a LBRP.

  P.S. ... For those who know the words, 
              please sing along, and tell me how the tune works for you.
           For those who have your own tunes, 
              would you consider trying to share one?
           For those who don't haven't tried the song, 
              this may not make much sense at all.
  0.    I begin with receptive silence, first bringing the room into 
        order, then bringing my body into repose, then my breathing
	into measured rhythm, and finally my thoughts.  I cannot begin 
        this work until I have ceased doing other things.

  1.    Using my father's dagger I trace the circle, and the cross, 
        addressing myself to the ritual.  It seems a bit like an 
        introduction (to the One ``who needs no introduction'' :-).  
        The real purpose, however, is to remind me where I am, and 
        why I have come here ... and it does that pretty effectively.  
        Establishing my relationship to the power is indeed an important
        preliminary to the remainder of the ritual.

  2.    Facing the rising sun, I inhale and look for the word that
        brought about the creation.  I gaze through the letters that 
        symbolize the ne-plus-ultra and try to find the sound that
        they represent.  This is the word I need to trigger my own 
        creation today.  When the Yod becomes clear, I am the Heh 
        that receives it, and the Vau they become wells within me,
        giving rise to the Heh that I return to the cosmos, and
        in so doing, animate the first sigil.

        I pause, as the light kindles, to experience the resonance
        between the ultimate power of creation, and the power of
        creation within myself.

  3.    Turning from sunrise to the sun at full Zenith, I reflect on 
        the awesome majesty of creation, and the power that permeates it.  
        As I contemplate the inconceivable wonder of the universe 
        (with all of its myriad worlds and souls), I search for the 
        name of its Lord ... so that I may trace my next sigil in 
        celebration of Hir glory.

        Once again, I pause to wait for the channel to come to
        life and savor my small glimpse of the almighty.

  4.    Turning towards the setting sun, I reflect on the glory
        I have been privileged to behold.  I note my breathing,
        and the implicit continuous prayer it offers in praise to
        the spirit of life.  ``Ruach'' means both ``breath'' and ``spirit,''
        and in our breathing we speak the holy name more perfectly 
        than words ever could.

        I seek to make each breath a more ardent and perfect prayer, 
        and an act of communion.  When my breath has become the
        name of life, I carve a sigil into which that principle can 
        be enshrined, and welcome the spirit of life into my circle.

  5.    Turning to the north, I see nothing, and so confront myself - 
        body and spirit, ego and instrument of divine will, animal 
        and god.  What am I and what am I to become?  How am I to 
        resolve a myriad of aspirations and urges?  The answer is not 
        in allowing myself to become a battleground for a thousand
        balkanized aspects of my own nature.  The answer lies in 
        finding purpose and becoming an instrument of that purpose.

        And so I acknowledge my need, and my inescapable obligation
        to understand and serve the divine will.  As I speak the oath
        that binds me to that will, I carve the sigil that must be
        simultaneously the instrument of my destruction and the key to 
        my salvation.

  6.    Turning again to the rising sun, and standing in the 
        center of these channels, I look forward to find the
        spirit of guidance.  My needs and aspirations have
        been anticipated, and provided for.  I need not want
        for guide or teacher.  I have but to open my eyes and
        see them.

  7.    The power of life swells behind me and within me, 
        compelling me to action and empowering me to achieve.  
        Life is that which does, and that which becomes.  
        I am life, and the power is within me ... or perhaps 
        more properly, I am a manifestation of that power.

  8.    On my right, I reach out to the light that vanquishes all 
        darkness.  I find therein perfection, protection and a power 
        beyond that of life.  I recognize it for what it is.  I 
        recognize that it is always there, and that I can always draw 
        upon it (if I have but eyes to see it).  I open myself to the light.

  9.    On my left, I reach out to a world bathed in divine
        light and see its richness, beauty, and perfection.
        It shames me to recognize how seldom I see the world
        so illuminated, and I am grateful to be reminded again
        of its true nature.

  10.   I stand surrounded by, and attuned to, four open 
        channels for divine energy.  Standing naked in the
        focal point, I reach out, simultaneously, to each.
        As the four streams of light converge in me, each
        carrying its own energy into me, I feel the parts
        of myself that are being brought into resonance.
        Finally, like a laser, pumped at the right frequency, 
        I burst forth with a nova-like brilliance, now a source
        of light myself ... and unlike the sigils through which
        this energy was channeled, I am wholely of this world.  
        I am the connection point between heaven and earth.  I am
        the vehicle through which the divine Will achieves worldly

  ...   Having obtained what I came for, I again affirm/acknowledge
        my relationship to the source.  (I occasionally feel like 
        offering thanks ... but that would be missing the point :-)


II. A Brief History of the Golden Dawn

The history of the Golden Dawn seemingly begins in 1881, when Samuel Liddell Mathers met Dr.'s William Wynn Westcott and William Robert Woodman, and entered the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, a scholarly group devoted to studying Rosicrucian and Hermetic topics, open to Master Masons only. Westcott took young Mathers under his wing, and Mathers quickly advanced to the top of that organization.

The ``magical mottoes'' of these three men may provide insight into their characters. Mathers took the mottoes 'S Rioghail Mo Dhream, or ``Royal is my tribe'' in Gaelic, and Deo Duce Comite Ferro, or ``With God as my leader and the sword as my companion.'' Westcott was known as Sapere Aude, or ``Dare to be wise,'' and Woodman was known as Magna Est Veritas Et Praevalehit, or ``Great is the truth and it shall prevail.''

The next key development was in 1887 with the ``discovery'' of the famous Cipher Manuscripts. Modern scholarship seems to point to prolific Masonic author Kenneth Mackenzie as their author, but whether the Cipher Manuscripts were found in a Masonic library, bought from a used bookshop, or fabricated whole-cloth, these documents contained summaries of the first five Golden Dawn initiation rituals (0=0 to 4=7). They were written in a simple, well-known alphabetic code based on the Polygraphiae of Johann Trithemius, and complete facsimiles and transcriptions have been published in, e.g., Kuntz's The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscipt (see Part V, below). Mathers took to them with a passion, and fleshed them out into full-blown rituals of ceremonial magic. Written on the manuscripts was the address of a certain Fraulein Sprengel (Sapiens Dominabitur Astris, or ``The wise one will be ruled by the stars'') in Germany, but many believe that Fraulein Sprengel was invented by Westcott to provide a sense of continental authority and legitimacy to this material.

Even if not directly German in origin, many of the magical concepts inherent in the Golden Dawn system were strongly influenced by continental European sources. Without a doubt, the works of the esteemed French occultist Eliphas Levi (1810-1875) were known to the originators of the Golden Dawn system. Levi's students, such as Stanislas de Guaita, Josephin Peledan, and Gerard Encausse (``Papus'') gathered in societies such as the ``Kabalistic Rose+Croix'' and the ``Catholic Rose+Croix of the Temple and the Grail.'' From the 1880s to the 1910s, these groups, or Salons, gathered to study ancient texts, practice magic and meditative techniques, and spread their occult knowledge to the public.

It was a year later, in 1888, that Mathers, Westcott, and Woodman inaugurated the first British Temple, Isis-Urania, and began to admit men and women as Neophytes. In 1890, Mathers married Mina (``Moina'') Bergson, sister of philosopher and writer Henri Bergson, and in 1892 they moved to Paris. The Ahathoor Temple was established, and it was not too long after that they clairvoyantly ``brought forth'' the Second Order (5=6 to 7=4) rituals and teachings. Some of the 5=6 ritual material, however, came from the Cipher Manuscripts. The first Vault of the Adepti, a required piece of ``scenery'' for Second Order rituals, was built in London, in Thavies Inn off Holborn Circus.

The following list of original G.D. Temples came originally from Ithell Colquhoun's biography of Mathers, Sword of Wisdom, but has been updated extensively with the help of several independent scholars. Any additional information, of course, would be greatly appreciated. (It goes without saying that the actual existence of Temples 1 and 2 is highly doubtful, but I include representative information about them from written histories and conjectures for completeness.)


Temple Name Date Founded Location and Chiefs
1. Licht, Liebe, und Leben 1808 ? Frankfurt: ``Fraulein Sprengel''
2. Hermanoubis 1883 ? London: Hockley, Mackenzie, Woodford
3. Isis-Urania 1 Mar. 1888 London: Westcott, Woodman, Mathers
4. Osiris 8 Oct. 1888 Weston-super-Mare: B. Cox
5. Horus 10 Oct. 1888 Bradford: T. H. Pattinson
6. Amen-Ra 8 Jun. 1893 Edinburgh: J. W. Brodie-Innes
7. Ahathoor 3 Dec. 1893 Paris: S. L. M. Mathers
8. Thme (Ihme?) 1897 Chicago: G. W. Wiggs
9. Thoth-Hermes 1897 New York: C. and E. D. Lockwood, M. J. Whitty
10. Isis [Alpha et Omega 1] May 1900 West London: E. W. Berridge

In 1900, a schism rocked the Order. Ms. Annie Hornimann, a member of the Isis-Urania Second Order, led a ``revolt'' against Mathers over several magical, political, and monetary issues. Anger led to posturing, which eventually led to litigation concerning the ownership of the temple furniture and other magical trappings. Also at about this time, many remaining G.D. members (including the Matherses) were duped by a Mr. and Mrs. ``Theo Horos,'' a.k.a. American confidence tricksters Frank Jackson and Editha Salomon, who claimed to be high-grade members. Many lost a good deal of money and property, but the Horos couple were convicted of fraud and the rape of a 16 year old girl in 1901. However, the G.D. was dragged through the mud of ignorant publicity and was never again the same. Because of this publicity, Mathers changed the name of his Order to Alpha et Omega, and the dissenting London members in the Isis-Urania Temple changed the name of their Order to the Hermetic Order of the Morgenrothe.

The problems were not over, however. In 1903, Aleister Crowley, who previously seemed the ``magical heir apparent'' to Mathers, defected to form his own organizations (see Question 8 above). Six years later, Crowley published G.D. rituals and doctrine in his journal, The Equinox, but its limited readership precluded the kind of impact that Regardie's subsequent publishing efforts produced. Also in 1903, the Isis-Urania Temple in London split into two further dissenting groups: (1) the Stella Matutina, under Robert W. Felkin, William Butler Yeats, and many others, and (2) the Holy Order of the G.D. (and later, the Independent and Rectified Rite), under A. E. Waite. These two groups differed primarily on the importance of magic (1) versus mysticism (2), but internal politics also had a say in this split.

With the ``golden age'' of the G.D. over, its members went their myriad ways. The Golden Dawn work, however, has been continued by many groups. Most noticeably, the Stella Matutina and its varied offshoots have continued in an unbroken line until as late as the 1970s. Also noteworthy is the contribution of Violet Mary Firth (Dion Fortune; from Deo Non Fortuna, or ``God, not chance''), who formed the Fraternity (later, Society) of the Inner Light, which functioned for many decades as an alternative, but closely related, group.

What follows is a far-from-complete listing of these succeeding organizations, originally culled from Colquhoun's Sword of Wisdom. Note that the list ends near the beginning of the 1970s. Most likely, any more recent groups are listed in Part IV, the list of active Golden Dawn groups, below.


Name of Group Date Founded Location and Founders
The Sphere c. 1897 London: F. Farr
Hermetic Society of the Morgenrothe 1902 London: Felkin, Brodie-Innes, Bullock
Order of Light 1902 Bradford: T. H. Pattinson
Stella Matutina (S.M.) [Amoun Temple] 1903 London: R. W. Felkin
Holy Order of the G.D. 1903 London: Waite, Blackden, Ayton
A .'. A .'. (Astron Argon) c. 1907 London: A. Crowley, G. C. Jones
Zos Kia Cultus c. 1910 London: A. O. Spare
Cromlech Temple [Solar Order] 1910 Edinburgh, London: J. W. Brodie-Innes
Smaragdum Thalasses/Whare Ra (S.M.) 1912 New Zealand: R. W. Felkin
Ordo Templi Orientis [orig. c. 1895] 1912 London: A. Crowley
Alpha et Omega 2 (Northern) 1913 Edinburgh, London: J. W. Brodie-Innes
Hermes Temple (S.M.) 1916 Bristol: R. W. Felkin
Merlin Temple (S.M.?) 1916 London: R. W. Felkin
Secret College in London (S.M.?) 1916 London: R. W. Felkin
Guild of St. Raphael 1916 London: Felkin and Roseveare
Fellowship of the True Rosy Cross [Salvator Mundi] 1916 London: A. E. Waite
Shrine of Wisdom c. 1916 Hermon Hill, N. London: A. E. Waite?
Nuada (Druid Order) c. 1916 Clapham, London: G. W. M. Reid
Alpha et Omega 3 (Southern) 1919 London: M. M. Mathers
Ptah Temple (Alpha et Omega ``No. 10'') 1919 Philadelphia: L. Geise, E. Dame
Atoum Temple (Alpha et Omega ``No. 20'') 1920 Los Angeles
School of Ageless Widsom c. 1920 Chicago: P. F. Case
Themis Temple (Alpha et Omega ``No. 30'') 1921 San Francisco?
Fraternity/Society of Inner Light 1922 London: Dion Fortune
Guild of the Master Jesus c. 1925 London: Dion Fortune
Hermanoubis Temple c. 1930 Bristol
Universal Order c. 1935 London and Brook, Surrey
Builders of the Adytum [orig. c. 1920] c. 1937 Los Angeles: P. F. Case
Order of the Morning Star c. 1945 London: M. Montalban
Garderian Wicca c. 1952 London: G. B. Gardner
Order of the Cubic Stone 1965 Wolverhampton: H. T. Howard
Order of the Sacred Word c. 1967 London: R. Hunt

III. Golden Dawn Minutae

There are several bits of miscellaneous trivia that seem appropriate to include in this FAQ, mainly because they do not appear in any of the published Golden Dawn books and might be considered helpful or useful. However, they are not actually ``answers'' to questions that have been ``frequently asked!"

I will attempt to expand this section as possible, but will limit this information to material not easily found elsewhere.

IV. List of Active Golden Dawn Temples and Related Organizations


I will start this list with a classified advertisement from the Winter 1991 issue of Gnosis magazine, which parallels my own opinions:

``The Golden Dawn is not a commercial enterprise. Initiation is not for sale. There are Temples that hold valid initiatory succession from the original Mother Temple in London which are quietly doing the Great Work. The Order exists. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.''

Successor Golden Dawn Organizations

These groups practice within a strict Golden Dawn form and see themselves as direct successors to the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and its tradition.


Golden Dawn Derived Orders

These groups practice traditions derived from the work of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn but have moved their work into a number of directions. They do not claim to be direct successors to the original order.



Related Occult Organizations

These are other modern groups related to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in some way or deriving some, but not the main body, of their work from that order.



V. Useful References

This listing of books and journal articles related to the Golden Dawn is nowhere near being a complete or comprehensive bibliography. This is simply a beginning-point for interested readers to learn more from independent sources other than this FAQ. Many of these books themselves contain bibliographies and reference lists which can be used to further explore the wealth of published Golden Dawn material.

Case, Paul Foster. The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser), 1985.

Cicero, Chic, and Cicero, Sandra Tabatha, eds. The Golden Dawn Journal (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications): Book I: Divination, 1994, Book II: Qabalah - Theory and Magic, 1994, Book III: The Art of Hermes, 1995, [Book IV:] The Magical Pantheons, 1998.

Cicero, Chic, and Cicero, Sandra Tabatha. Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition: a Complete Curriculum of Study for both the Solitary Magician and the Working Magical Group (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications), 1995.

Colquhoun, Ithell. Sword of Wisdom: MacGregor Mathers and the ``Golden Dawn'' (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons), 1975.

Crowley, Aleister. Magick: Liber ABA, Book Four (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser), 1997. Consists of Part I: Mysticism, Part II: Magick (Elementary Theory), Part III: Magick in Theory and Practice, Part IV: Thelema: The Law. Published in various editions and combinations since the 1920s.

Crowley, Aleister. The Holy Books of Thelema (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser), 1983.

Denning, Melita, and Phillips, Osborne. The Magical Philosophy (in 3 volumes: I: The Foundations of High Magick, II: The Sword and the Serpent, III: Mysteria Magica), (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications), 1981.

Eshelman, James A. The Mystical and Magical System of the A.'.A.'. (Oroville, CA: College of Thelema), 1993.

Fortune, Dion. The Mystical Qabalah (London: Ernest Benn), 1935.

Gilbert, R. A. The Golden Dawn Companion: a Guide to the History, Structure, and Workings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (Wellingborough, Aquarian Press), 1986.

Gilbert, R. A. The Golden Dawn Scrapbook: the Rise and Fall of a Magical Order (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser), 1997.

Gilbert, R. A. The Golden Dawn: Twilight of the Magicians (Wellingborough, Aquarian Press), 1983.

Gilbert, R. A. ``Magical Manuscripts: an Introduction to the Archives of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn,'' in Yeats Annual, No. 5, ed. by Warwick Gould, 1987, pp. 163-177.

Gilbert, R. A. ``MSS in a Black Box: the Golden Dawn Papers of Dr. William Wynn Westcott,'' in Yeats Annual, No. 6, ed. by Warwick Gould, 1988, pp. 227-233.

Greer, Mary K. Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses (Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press), 1995.

Harper, George Mills. Yeats's Golden Dawn: the Influence of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn on the Life and Art of W. B. Yeats (London: Macmillan), 1974.

Howe, Ellic. ``Fringe Masonry in England 1870-85,'' in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Transactions of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, vol. 85 (1972), pp. 242-295.

Howe, Ellic. The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: a Documentary History of a Magical Order, 1887-1923 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1972.

King, Francis X. Magic: The Western Tradition (London: Thames and Hudson), 1975.

King, Francis X. Modern Ritual Magic: The Rise of Western Occultism (Dorset, UK: Prism Press), 1989. Originally published as: Ritual Magic in England: 1887 to the Present Day (London: Neville Spearman), 1970.

Kuntz, Darcy. The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscipt (Edmonds, Washington: Holmes Publishing Group), 1996. Number 1 in the ``Golden Dawn Studies Series.''

Kuntz, Darcy. The Golden Dawn Source Book (Edmonds, Washington: Holmes Publishing Group), 1996. Number 2 in the ``Golden Dawn Studies Series.''

Levi, Eliphas. Transcendental Magic (New York: Samuel Weiser), 1970.

Mathers, S. L. MacGregor, Ritual Magic of the Golden Dawn, edited and introduced by Francis King, additional material by R. A. Gilbert. (Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books), 1997. Originally published as Astral Projection, Ritual Magic, and Alchemy.

McIntosh, Christopher. The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason: Eighteenth Century Rosicrucianism in Central Europe and its Relationship to the Enlightenment (Leiden: E. J. Brill), 1992.

Raine, Kathleen. Yeats, the Tarot, and the Golden Dawn, Number 2 in the Series ``New Yeats Papers.'' (Dublin: Dolmen Press), 1972.

Regardie, Israel. The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic (Phoenix, Arizona: Falcon Press), 1984.

Regardie, Israel. The Golden Dawn (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications), 1st ed. (Chicago: Aries Press) 1937-1940; 2nd ed. 1969; 3rd ed. 1970; 4th ed. 1971; 5th ed. 1986; 6th ed. 1989.

Regardie, Israel. What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn (Phoenix, Arizona: Falcon Press), 1985. Previously published as My Rosicrucian Adventure, 1936.

Schuchard, Marsha Keith Manatt. Freemasonry, Secret Societies, and the Continuity of the Occult Traditions in English Literature, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin (UMI No. 7524957), 1975.

Torrens, Robert G. The Secret Rituals of the Golden Dawn (Northamptonshire: Aquarian Press), 1973.

Voorhis, Harold van Buren. A History of Organized Masonic Rosicrucianism: Societas Rosicruciana (privately published: S.R.I.A., Robert C. Patey, Secretary General), 1983.

Waite, Arthur Edward. The Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross (London: William Rider and Son), 1924.

Yates, Frances A. The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1972.

Zalewski, Patrick J. Golden Dawn Enochian Magic (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications), 1990.

Zalewski, Patrick J. Kaballah of the Golden Dawn (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications), 1993.

Zalewski, Patrick J. The Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn (Phoenix, Arizona: Falcon Press), 1988.