The Three Chiefs of the Golden Dawn

hy the Past Hierophant needs to get the boot

The top table of chiefs are composed of the Imperator, the Cancellarius and Praemonstrator. The Hierophant is also supposed to sit between them and behind him sits the Past-Heirophant.
Throughout the history of the Golden Dawn little work has been done about the magical function of these officers. Instead the titles are seen as mostly administrative. The person who fancies themselves in charge of the group takes the role of Imperator because it means “the person who rules” and it gets to stick them on a throne above all the others dressed in bright red and holding a jolly big sword.

However this ego stroke shows the ignorance of the system and the belief that it was an Imperator that ran the Order. In the original GD these officers were not seen and their function was not discussed by the great unwashed. The Hierophant’s throne was between a half open curtain and that was all that could be seen of these officers. If there was any dance of the ego it was conducted behind closed doors or curtains.
There were three important officers on the top table and one, the Heirophant which moved between the three.

The three represented the three pillars on the tree of life, the alchemical principles, Fire, Air and Water and the gods Nepthys, Thoth and Isis. The Hierophant (and the candidate) represented Osiris, Salt and Malkuth, and Earth.
But what does all this mean?
There are three great currents which come into the 0=0 ceremony from the withdrawn orders which are personified by the three chiefs. For the sake of identification I will call these the Nephsys, Thoth and Isis current. Their function is to rebuild and empower Osiris.
Nephsys is water and Mercury. Her function is to alchemically separate (ie desolve) the candidate during the various processes of the 0=0. She is the force of putrefaction which takes place after death. She is also the purifier. Isis is fire and sulfur and the consecrating force which alchemically binds the candidate. Thoth is the quintessence the force which unites the forces of Sulphur and Mercury and thus resurrects Osiris.
These three rays take up a third of the temple each. Every time a candidate or an officer (with their godform) enter into those temple sectors they are working with and interacting with those rays. Thus when the candidate enters the temple in the West the first thing that happens to them is that they are broken down by the Nepthys force so that they can be rebound by the Isis force and raised up under the Thoth ray. The work of the 0=0 therefore can be said to be using the “Solve et Coagula” maxim of the alchemist.
This means then that the circumambulations where the candidate crosses the three lines of force mirror the alchemical processes of dissolve and bind. These transmutions are carried out by Maat and Anubis as they lead the candidate around the temple. They are also a factor at the various points where the candidate is stopped.
Also it is interesting to note that when Sulphur is mixed with Mercury and baked it creates a vermilion powder which was the basis for red paint. It makes sense of why the Hierophant wears red and how the action of the Imperator and the Praemonstrator bound by the power of the Cancellerious manufacture within the order the “created fire and the uncreated (or hidden) fire” which powers the Hierophant.
The Hierophant then takes his power from these three rays which are manifested throughout the grade rises of the outer order. He is the salt, or material result of their action and hopes to pass on these powers to the candidate.
To me this answers the question as to whether the Hierophant should sit in front of the officers or in a line with them. He should be on an apex of triangle which the base line is the Imperator, the Cancellarius and the Praemonstrator. He should be seated in front of the Cancellarius who provides him with the middle pillar of air and the powers of the quintessence which he is expected to manifest into the the temple of Maat.
The question about all this is what has all this work got do with the post of “past-heirophant”?. In Whare Ra this job was basically to assist the Hierophant in bringing in all the energy into the temple and to effectively sit in his chair as Osiris when the Hierophant was running around being Aroueris. He is Aroueris when the Hierophant is sitting down. The question is, is this role really required as it breaks a lot of very important symbols on the top table. You lose the idea of the tree of life, you lose the trinity, because four officers do not mean the same thing as three.
The role, while an interesting idea, is not mirrored with other officers. Just because the Heirus stands up there is not a past Heirus to fills the passive role while the officer is active on the floor.
Since none of the chiefs roles are contained in the Cipher manuscripts it means that they are the invention of Mathers and Westcott. While the idea of three chiefs shows some alchemical genius, the use of four does not. In fact it shows the influence of freemasonry. In freemasonry once someone has passed through the chair they are given a past master title. They are supposed to assist the current master in their role. Sound familiar? However it is just another officer and a sop to the lost status which is afforded to the new master of the lodge.
Magically it does little which is not done elsewhere and actually messes with the tree of life and alchemical symbolism which is much more important. When I started to question the role of the past Hierophant I noticed that with the officer sitting on his desk there are actually 11 officers. Praemonstrator, Cancellarius, Imperator, Hierophant, Past Hierophant, Hegemon, Hierus, Dadouchos, Stolistes, Kerux and Sentinel. While this is a little superstitious, it is not a desirable number of officers to have, since it represents the qlippoth, whereas ten indicates the sephiroth. Given this, I think it is probably better that the past Hierophant is handed his P45 and pink slip and told that in a magical order we don’t really need to create senior jobs to avoid upsetting people who can’t be Hierophant any more.

Diagrams in the Golden Dawn

For many years I have been working in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn where few of the diagrams of the Golden Dawn where used in the initiation rituals.  This is because the HOGD and many modern Golden Dawn orders were based on the rituals printed by Israel Regardie just before the Second World War in his Golden Dawn book.
The Bristol temple was going through a phase of removing parts of the ritual it did not understand or felt were cumbersome and the versions of the rituals that Regardie experienced were these cut down rite. The candidate still saw the diagrams, they were given to him or her during their course work and that was felt to be enough.
When deciding on the rituals of the Magical Order of Aurora Aurea I felt that we should return to the Whare Ra rituals. Whare Ra was the last surviving order of the Golden Dawn, closing its doors in the late 1970s. I worked with some of the people in that temple after it closed and know the magical depths they managed to find within the Golden Dawn system.
Going through the old rituals, I was surprised at quite how many of the diagrams there were which have to be presented to the candidate. Some were obvious, some I had seen and some were a complete mystery. Some diagrams even appeared to be repeated or the information duplicated across several grades. In each case the diagram was explained by the officer, often extending the length of the ritual considerably.
Part of me started to agree with Bristol and think they should be edited out. After all how can a candidate who has undergone an initiation that means anything actually stand, let alone comprehend the subtleties of a dozen diagrams.
I had been following a few threads on the various diagrams and decided that what ever happened they were important for a reason unknown and the Magical Order of the Aurora would use them in its initiations.
One thing we did do was to use the godforms associated with the diagrams to over shadow the candidate during the speeches and to link the diagram to the candidate’s sphere of sensation. I thought that this would be fairly tame and a sensible magical use of the them.
However during psychic observations of the use of the diagrams in the initiations we started to notice that they were doing something more than we thought. Firstly the godforms appeared to be teaching the candidate something in connection with the tablet while the speeches were taking place. Secondly the godforms appeared to use the tablets magically to change the candidate’s sphere of sensation. In several cases we heard a clicking sound when some people were exposed to the tablets as their sphere of sensation was re-orientated.
This was interesting so I returned to the rituals to note where some of the confusing diagrams apppeared. Perhaps the strangest was the Geomantic Diagrams which were scattered throughout the GD rituals. However if these diagrams were part of a huge psychic operation which is taking place on the candidate’s sphere of sensation over several rituals their function becomes more than simply providing intellectual information. Geomancy works with the Earth spirits so in the initiation it is sealing and earthing the different components of the psychic operation. This is particularly so in the 4=7 when the candidate is shown something which tells them how to build an Earth talisman. Pat Zalewski was the first to spot the fact that when Mathers converted the the Cipher manuscripts so that the geomantic symbols used in the talisman were Rubeus and Puer. It made sense in some respects in that the path where the candidate is exposed to this particular talisman is on a Luna path and Mathers wanted to hint at the feiry Mars aspect of the Moon. The fact that he changed it is crucial because it says he recognised that the presentation of the diagram would have a magical effect. Unfortunately he was being a little too clever by half. The author of the Cipher documents said that the talisman should be Rubeus and Admissio. The fusion of these two geomantic symbols would be to negate the destructive aspects of Rubeus and allow the positive flow of love. This path after all is a move towards Netzach and very appropriate to the idea of the Moon under the influence of Mercy.
So it appears to be fairly clear that an operation is taking place here and not simply the masonic presentation of intellectual knowledge.
Take another example. Several times the candidate is shown various versions of the geometric shapes, in different guises. The information could be worked out the first time you see the diagram so why do you get a reprise for the second and third times. My suggestion would be that this is giving the sphere of sensation instructions in an energy form that it can use them to communicate but also crystallising parts of the sphere of sensation so that they fit to those shapes.
All this is fairly good magic covered under a dry intellectual shield. If the diagrams, such as tarot, have the effect of shaping the sphere of sensation then it becomes crucial that they are used and presented to the candidate.
But the diagrams also have another function in the temple. When they are not being showed to the candidate they act as invisible stations for power. This makes their placement important as it is possible to see lines of force between them. Remember that in an initiation the temple represents the candidate’s sphere of sensation so these focal points become crucial.
With these diagrams being restored to the position of magical weapons their power becomes obvious. However this does raise some pretty obvious questions. The first is why did the Bristol temple think that ditching the diagrams was a good idea?
It is quite likely that in various times in its history the Golden Dawn has degenerated. The magical meaning behind the rites has been lost. While Felkin’s Whare Ra remained on the ball there was no-one to check what the “provinces” were doing. There is an inherent trend within the Golden Dawn to kill off its magic side, or at very least, not study it. When this happens an order goes through the rituals and the motions of a working order without it being one. Diagrams, which superficially appeal to the Intellect are easily dismissed for what they appear to be, rather than what they really are.