The Golden Dawn FAQ
Updated: December 1999, Version 6.0
THE GOLDEN DAWN: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND RESOURCE LISTS
Version 6.0, December 1999
Created and Maintained by
Steven R. Cranmer (firstname.lastname@example.org) from 1993 through early 1999.
Now maintained and updated by Al Billings (email@example.com).
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 http://www.hermetic.com/gdlibrary/.
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?
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…
- It is worth it not to have everything handed to you all at once. Whether it is working out physics problems, or reading an Agatha Christie mystery novel, skipping to the end for the “answers” can take something away from the experience.
- Many posit the existence of a “Group Mind” which can develop in some seriously minded associations of individuals. “Secrecy” here (which is sometimes termed “Silence” to differentiate it from a more widely spread hoarding of knowledge) is just an outgrowth of simple privacy, commitment, and integrity among a closely knit group of people, who don't want their business known by the entire world. Of course, when their “business” begins to entail the propagation of a tradition claimed to be of benefit to all humankind, it becomes harder to justify secrecy as a simple privacy issue.
- One must differentiate between information and knowledge. There is a huge difference between the basic facts of a craft (which can be and are set down in books) and the actual skills that people develop from accumulated experience (which usually cannot even be expressed in concise words, let alone written down). I think many would agree, to use Colin Low's analogy, that a “Do It Yourself Brain Surgery” book would be a bad idea. The knowledge isn't really a secret, but it's certainly not available for everyone's immediate use, either.
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:
- Don't count on having “secrets” revealed to you. Ninety-nine percent of them are already published, in some form, somewhere.
- The symbols and metaphors used by a particular group or tradition may not “work” for you. Even different “Golden Dawn” groups vary in their focus or underlying worldview, and many have altered or expanded upon the original 19th century G.D. material. Don't confuse the map (the association of individuals) with the territory (the system of symbol and ritual).
- Listen to your common sense! If something doesn't feel right to you, by all means don't do it. Not everyone seems meant to work within an Order - possibly you can do better, and create something new!
(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:
- 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.
- 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 assessment 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.
- 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
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:
- Face East, and take a steel dagger in your right hand.
- Touch your forehead , and say . . . ATEH (Thou art)
- Touch your breast , and say . . . MALKUTH (the kingdom)
- Touch your right shoulder, and say . . . Ve-GEBURAH (and the power)
- Touch your left shoulder, and say . . . Ve-GEDULAH (and the glory)
- Clasp your left hand over your right hand hand before you, and say . . . Le-OLAM (for ever)
- Turn the dagger upwards, and say . . . AMEN
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:
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:
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
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 manifestation.
… 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.)
ORIGINAL GOLDEN DAWN TEMPLES
|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.
SELECTED OFFSHOOTS, VARIANTS, AND CO-INFLUENCED GROUPS
|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 Minutiae
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.
Several books, such as Gilbert's Golden Dawn Companion and Kuntz's Golden Dawn Source Book, contain detailed lists of the members of the various historical Golden Dawn Temples. These have been taken from actual membership rolls and other primary source material. What might be interesting, though, is a list of famous people who have been claimed to be members of the Golden Dawn, but actually were not. This may help “set the record straight” and avoid the propagation of inaccuracies in new overviews and histories of the Golden Dawn.
It seems quite clear from the available reference material (but there is probably never 100 percent certainty) that the following people were NOT registered members of any Golden Dawn organization:
- E. A. Wallis Budge, author and Egyptologist
- Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton, author
- Arthur Conan Doyle, author
- H. Rider Haggard, author
- Fredrick Hockley, famous Freemason
- Eliphas Levi (a.k.a. Alphonse Louis Constant), author and occultist
- Kenneth MacKenzie, author
- Edward Munch, artist
- Jean Marie Ragon, author
- Sax Rohmer (a.k.a. A. S. Ward), author
- Bram Stoker, author
- August Strindberg, author, poet, and artist
- Revd. A. F. A. Woodward, famous Freemason
The Neophyte Chemicals
In published versions of the Neophyte (0=0) initiation ceremony, an impressive chemical reaction is presented to the new initiate. Because of the desire for secrecy (self-imposed or not) about these ceremonies, this FAQ is not really the place to discuss the meaning or appearance of this reaction.
However, the names of the actual chemicals used are not usually included in the published descriptions of this ceremony. Thus, I would like to present them here, and acknowledge the posting of Tim S. Walker (on 13 May 1998) to the Usenet news group alt.magick, as the source of this information. The two chemicals to be combined are:
Ferric Ammonium Sulfate
When working with chemicals, please take all necessary safety precautions!
IV. List of Active Golden Dawn Temples and Related Organizations
- I am not in any way affiliated with any of these organizations. This information comes from advertisements in various esoteric publications, the Internet, and personal correspondence. Many of these organizations charge a great deal of money for their teachings, and I am in no way condoning that practice nor condemning it. I'm just providing the information.
I am greatly indebted to the following individuals for providing a great deal of useful information about many of the Orders listed below. Much of the detail in the listings (and elsewhere in this FAQ) is attributable to their diligent detective work.
Christopher Ward, Baird Stafford, Harvey Newstrom, Richard Leo Stokes, Luke Roberts, Naia Kirkpatrick, Vere C. Chappell, Gregory Peters, Bill Heidrick, Alexander Walker, Christeos Pir, Lainie Petersen, Vivienne O'Regan, Dora Gyn/QBL, James A. Eshelman, Darcy Kuntz, Laura Jennings-Yorke, Pat Zalewski, “Wizard,” Art de Hoyos, Mitch Henson.
- Almost by definition, a directory of “secret” societies and groups is going to be woefully incomplete, and perpetually out of date. If anyone has any additional information, or spots any errors in the following, please let me know, so we can make this list as complete as possible.
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.
August Order of Light
London, York, and Bradford, U.K.
Descended from the original Horus Temple of the G.D. in Bradford, this group was originally comprised only of members of the Masonic Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, but as of 1994, there were about 87 men and women. One of the Temples has a correspondence course, but they seem very selective in who participates. Unlike some other G.D. Orders, their “Inner Order” seems to encompass the grades of 8=3 and above.
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
P.O. Box 1757, Elfers, FL 34680-1757
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is a non-profit Florida corporation whose goal is the continued preservation of that body of knowledge known as Hermeticism or the Western Esoteric Tradition. This organization promotes the teachings of the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a magical fraternity founded in London in 1888 by Dr. William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, which ceased to exist under that name in 1903 but which continued for a number of years under the names of two spin-off organizations, the Stella Matutina and the Alpha et Omega.
Re-inaugurated by Israel Regardie on 26 June 1982 in Columbus, GA. Regardie had called together three unacquainted fraters and one soror who were reviving the G.D. in the United States in the 1970s. The Temple associated with Chic Cicero, “Isis-Urania, No. 18,” originated in Columbus, Georgia in the late 1970s, and is now in a nearby state. Israel Regardie visited, consecrated, and autographed this Temple's Vault of the Adepti. On 10 April 1995, Chic Cicero filed for a U.S. Federal Trademark for the name “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn,” with the expressed purpose of preserving the tradition for all members of valid Golden Dawn groups. For more information, one can send email or see their WWW site.
Hermetic Order of the Morning Star International
(formerly: Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn International)
(formerly: Hermetic Order of the Eternal Golden Dawn)
14050 Cherry Avenue, Suite R-159 - Dept. G, Fontana, CA 92337, USA
Imperator Temple of Isis, Mighty Mother, no. 12 . . . . (909)-341-5628
Tehuti Temple, no. 13, Vancouver, BC . . . . . . . . . (604)-687-6979
Sanctuary of Michael, San Diego, CA . . . . . . . . . . contact via Isis
Sanctuary of Amon-Ra, Houston, TX . . . . . . . . . . . (713)-267-4822
Sanctuary of Hermanubis, Los Angeles, CA. . . . . . . . (310)-289-7214
Sanctuary of Auriel, Athens, GA . . . . . . . . . . . . (706)-208-0105
Complete correspondence course available. Individual guidance, full membership if accepted. Send them email for a free information packet with an entrance application. This Order claims an initiatory lineage via the Mathers' Alpha et Omega Temples in America. Initial dues for the Outer Order are $150 (1 year's mailings: $30, dues $65, Neophyte initiation fee $55), and adepts are available by phone to answer questions. Initiations can be done in person or astrally, and the study material is said to be very comprehensive. There is no Thelema or sex magic. As of early 1998, the H.O.M.S.I. published the magazine “The Golden Dawn Quarterly,” $22/year, as well as the members-only newsletter “Tablets of Thoth.” More information can be obtained on their web site, or via email.
Invisible Temple No. 0, Ordo Roseae Rubeae et Aurea Crucis
Various Locations, Europe and America
An independent branch of Israel Regardie's Hermetic Temple and Order of the Golden Dawn, via Christopher Hyatt (Alan Miller). The 6=5 and 7=4 grades are conferred on qualified adepts who have performed the prerequisite work in the Outer Order, and are able to manage a Golden Dawn Temple. Members known to be in California, Maryland, Minnesota, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Most male members are also high-grade Masons.
Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (and Hermetic Order of the G.D.)
270 North Canon Drive, Suite 1302, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Affiliated with Cris Monnastre, and related to Regardie's re-inauguration of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1982, this group published a full-page “Manifesto Fraternitatis” in the Fall 1995 issue of Gnosis magazine, under the direction of the Secret Chiefs of the Ordo Argenti Astri (the Third Order). They proclaimed the abrogation of previously published passwords, and mentioned their possession of initiation rituals for all grades of the Second and Third Orders. More information is available about these Orders, as well as the “United Confederation of Independent and Autonomous Temples,” at their WWW site (or this alternate site), or via email.
Templo L.V.X. Thot
Buenos Aires, Argentina
A Spanish-speaking Golden Dawn organization which offers physical instruction, initiations, and correspondence courses in Qabalah, astrology, tarot, alchemy, Enochian magic, tattvas, geomancy, meditation, path travels, gematria, Egyptian mysteries, and ritual magic. They are associated with the “United Confederation of Independent and Autonomous Temples.” For more information contact them via email or see their WWW site.
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.
August Order of the Mystic Rose
P.O. Box 71, Mt. View, CA 94042
Described briefly by Mary K. Greer in Women of the Golden Dawn, this group is affiliated with Robert Word, a scholar of Golden Dawn history. When requesting information, Greer suggests a donation of $2 to help cover mailing costs.
Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.)
5101-05 North Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90042, TEL (323)-255-7141, FAX (323)-255-4166
Established by Paul Foster Case and/or Ann Davies as an “outer vehicle of the inner school,” this group is descended from the original New York Thoth-Hermes Temple (in that the founders were Chiefs of Thoth-Hermes). Its Second Order was originally called “The School of Ageless Wisdom.” See Case's True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order, and his other books, for more information. Free brochure available. Correspondence course. For the first year or so, one pays $10/month, and obtains a self-initiation ritual, seven weeks of instruction on “Practical Occultism,” then about a year of Tarot instruction. The Tarot material is highly recommended by many. If one is near a BOTA Temple or Proanos, members can participate in rituals, Temple services, and initiations. Local study groups are also in many cities. See also their Web page. There is also a listserv study-group mailing list.
Fraternity of the Hidden Light / Fraternitas LVX Occulta (F.L.O.)
P.O. Box 5094, Dept. S, Covina, CA 91723, USA
P.O. Box 70524, 2938 Dundas St. West, Toronto, Ontario M6P 4E7
Founded in the mid-1980s by Paul A. Clark and others, this “modern day repository of the Hermetic Arts” offers a quality correspondence course, as well as teaching and ceremonial work in Lodges and Temples in the USA and Canada. A “direct lineal descendant” of the Golden Dawn via a reconstituted “Rosicrucian Order of the Alpha et Omega in America,” F.L.O. also assimilates traditions from B.O.T.A., as well as “new revelations from continual research.” Color and sound based healing techniques are an important part of the curriculum. Fees and suggested donations are said said to be very reasonable. Lodges in Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, Denver, and Toronto. A study group is also forming in the Chicago area (phone contact: 773-381-5701). Christopher Ward lists himself as an email contact for anyone who wants more information, and he maintains the Home Page for the F.L.O.
New Zealand Guild of Alchemists
P.O. Box 5115, Greenmeadows, Napier, New Zealand
A quasi-G.D. organization, originally given a warrant in 1990 by an ex-Whare-Ra Adept (Percy Williams, 6=5) to found a Temple called 'Horus.' The Horus Temple was founded in Hawkes Bay by Greg Boag, according to the material on the Te-Neteru Sanctuary Web page (see below). Currently they are oriented mainly toward PRS alchemy (both psychological and practical), but it is not known if this group continues to initiate into the Golden Dawn proper.
26 Rue Francois Bonvin, 75015, Paris, France
Mentioned briefly by Mary K. Greer in Women of the Golden Dawn. When requesting information, Greer suggests a donation of $2 to help cover mailing costs.
Society of the Inner Light
38 Steele's Road, London NW3 4RG, U.K.
Continuation of Dion Fortune's (and William Gray's) Society of the Inner Light. Still active and continuing to provide a correspondence course.
Servants of the Light
P.O. Box 215, St. Helier, Jersey (Channel Islands), U.K. JE4 1AB
P.O. Box 6563, Syracuse, NY 13217-6563, USA
Descendant of Dion Fortune's Society of the Inner Light. Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, Director of Studies (she succeeded W. E. Butler). The fifty-six lesson course (US $10/lesson) is based on Qabalah, the Grail Legend, and the Arthurian mythos, and lasts several years. Students and graduates of the course may join Lodges in England and Scotland, Stockholm, Vancouver BC, and the U.S. (Atlanta, Denver, and soon one in the Northeast). The SOL is non-profit, and publishes its own Tarot deck and a House magazine. They also hold several large-scale seminars/retreats (see large advertisements in Gnosis magazine). Email contacts are Peter Cawley and Fran Keegan, and there is also a WWW page.
Star and Cross
P.O. Box 25541, Dallas, TX 75225, USA
Home study course: Dion Fortune's inner teachings, “Western Tradition of the Mysteries.” Rumored to have a strong emphasis on Jungian psychology.
Temple of Thelema
222 North Manhattan Place, Los Angeles, CA 90004 (Harpocrates Temple 1)
P.O. Box 415, Oroville, CA 95965 (Nuit Mother Temple)
P.O. Box 58, Carmichael, CA 95609 (Silver Star Pronaos 2)
PMB 774, 236 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 (Agape Temple 4)
P.O. Box 70695, 2938 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ONT M6P 1Y8 (Avalon Pronaos 7)
This group, also an outer vehicle “in the service” of Crowley's A.A., was founded in 1989 by Jim Eshelman, Phyllis Seckler, and Anna-Kria King. Updated to conform to the Law of Thelema, the Temple of Thelema is the ceremonial and initiatory vehicle of the College of Thelema, founded in 1973 by Phyllis Seckler (Soror Meral). COT shares the contact addresses given above, and also publishes a bi-annual journal called Black Pearl. (Their journal In the Continuum, published between 1973 and 1996, is still available in back issues.) T.O.T.'s innovations to the Golden Dawn system are substantial, as they can be utilized as “lower octave” introductions to the A.A., but they do conform to the original formulae of the Cipher Manuscripts. For more info, see their WWW site.
Order of the Thelemic Golden Dawn (T.G.D.)
Grand Temple address: Thelemic Golden Dawn, 1626 No. Wilcox Ave. #418, Los
Angeles, CA USA 90028. Chief Officer: David Cherubim (Frater Aurora Aureae).
Temple of Baphomet [Grand Temple] OrderoftheTGD@aol.com
Temple of Hadit, MA firstname.lastname@example.org
Temple of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, CO email@example.com
Sanctuary of Babalon, NY firstname.lastname@example.org
Sanctuary of the Phoenix, FL email@example.com
Sanctuary of Nuit, AUSTRALIA firstname.lastname@example.org
A reconstructed version of the Golden Dawn based mainly on Aleister Crowley's Religion of Thelema. No longer affiliated with New Falcon Publications or the Israel Regardie Foundation. There is no charge for initiations or other services, but a modest annual donation is requested. The Thelemic Golden Dawn is affiliated with the Aleister Crowley Foundation (ACF). Services offered include Temple and/or Self-Initiation ceremonies, lessons, newsletters and classes at no charge. Many of their online rituals and instructions are archived on their main WWW site [http://www.tgd.org/%5D or are available via email [OrderoftheTGD@aol.com].
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.
Church/Brotherhood of Light
Dept. G - 2341 Coral St., Los Angeles, CA 90031-2916, TEL (213)-226-0453
Correspondence study available since 1932. Not really part of the G.D. tradition, but related in spirit. Originated as The Hermetic Brotherhood of Light in Scotland in the late 1870s, members such as Peter Davidson circulated lessons on magic (sexual magic in the higher degrees, influenced by the Tantric approach of “Max Theon,” or Louis Maximillian Bimstein) mainly through the mail. In the 1890s, a lodge formed in France which contained many prominent French occultists. Also, Davidson moved to Georgia and founded a Christian mystical community. In 1915, Elbert Benjamine (“C. C. Zain”) came from Georgia to California, and assimilated Davidson's material into 210 lessons in 22 books, and began the Church of Light in 1932. Its focus is mainly on astrology (the “Religion of the Stars”), but there are fifty initiatory degrees as well. For more details, see their Web page. See also an article by Joscelyn Godwin in the quarterly journal Theosophical History, and his new book The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser), 1995.
P.O. Box 20424, Portland, OR 97294-0424
A non-profit religious organization, not formally connected to the Golden Dawn, but was established in 1995 for seekers interested in the Western Esoteric Tradition, Rosicrucianism, Qabalah, alchemy, Gnosticism, Neo-Paganism, and the Grail Quest. Their Priestesses and Priests can perform, e.g., legal marriages in the state of Oregon. Much more information can be found on their WWW site., or one can email Adam Forrest.
Order of the Aurum Solis (Order of the Sacred Word)
BCM Tessera, London, WC1N 3XX, U.K.
Initiatory organization described in Denning and Phillips' Magical Philosophy series. While seemingly related to the Golden Dawn, its symbolism is more “Byzantine” (or “Ogdoadic”) than Rosicrucian, although many similar traditions (Kabbalah, alchemy, neo-Platonism) are drawn from. Working groups exist in England, America, continental Europe, and West Africa, and entry is currently via invitation only. A Lodge Master in San Diego, CA maintains a Web page with a bit of extra information.
Oxford Golden Dawn Occult Society
P.O. Box 250, Oxford, OX1 1AP, UK
A group which aims to “disseminate authentic information about the occult,” and which organizes speakers, workshops, and conferences. They offer training in Oxford for students, have monthly meetings and a public annual conference in October, and publish a journal “Nuit-Isis.” This group is more of a Thelemic organization than a Golden Dawn one. Their London Lodge has a membership of about 40, and meets regularly at sites around London. Associate membership is 5 UK pounds, and details can be found by telephoning Mogg Morgan at +44 (0)1865 243671, by email, or on their WWW site.
Societas Rosicruciana (Masonic)
Soc. Ros. in Anglia (50 Colleges in England and abroad)
Soc. Ros. in Scotia (5 Colleges in Scotland)
Soc. Ros. in Civitatibus Foederatis (32 Colleges in the U.S. and abroad)
Originally founded in 1866 by Robert Wentworth Little as an esoteric study organization for Master Masons. The three founding members of the Golden Dawn were high-grade members, and many features of the Soc. Ros. (such as the names of the Rosicrucian grades) made their way into the Golden Dawn. Harold Voorhis' comprehensive history of the Soc. Ros. (see the References below) contains much more information. The Masonic qualification still exists today, and membership is only by invitation. The California College of the S.R.I.C.F. maintains a WWW page.
Te-Neteru Sanctuary (B.W Et Custosi Tutelae)
Southland, New Zealand
Although primarily descended from a group known as the “Guardians of Grace and Blessing,” this group also traces a descent from the Whare-Ra Temple of the Stella Matutina, via a Frater Fiat Lux, who joined Whare-Ra in 1936 and died in 1994. This Order holds a charter to initiate to the level of Adeptus Major, but operates mainly independently of the G.D. tradition. Their emphasis is “Craft-oriented and based upon practical magic.” They do not charge fees for membership, initiation, or training. For more information, see their WWW site.
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.
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