Pat Zalewski’s books on the Golden Dawn are always worth getting and reading. Lately, he has not written that many, preferring to focus on this correspondence course, so his new one is a rarity. I was going to write a review of it, and Pat asked me to “let him have it” so here goes.
Godforms of the Golden Dawn tradition is very much a Pat Zalewski book with similarities to his classic Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries. When I read Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries (in the 90s) his descriptions of the use of Godforms provided me with a link between the inner work which I was doing and the Golden Dawn.
This book looks at Zalewski’s approach to Godforms which are mostly based on the holographic theory and Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic fields. That approach has a lot to offer, and Pat clearly explains them in the context of Godforms.
Like most Zalewski books Godforms of the Golden Dawn does not have to be taken in its entirety. There are stand-alone packages of information which unlock chunks of Golden Dawn information. For example, Pat’s explanation of the godforms of the Enochian Chess pieces in the GD ritual is well worth it.
Pat also provides some of the Godforms of the elemental grades as used in Whare Ra with original pictures provided to him by Tony Fuller. Dion Fortune said that illustrations like this were often the real hidden teaching behind a magic order and were often the key to connecting to the original order. Certainly, there are rather a lot of Golden Dawn orders which do not use these godforms and yet claim to be linked to the Stella Matutina or Whare Ra.
Zalewski does not like the more modern approach of officers adopting individual godforms and prefers that the Hierophant generates all of them. He says that this is because the hierophant needs to be in control of the ritual. I do a half-way house with the godforms being created by the officers but ensouled by the Hierophant who links them into the ritual’s network and contacts. This takes a lot of the pressure off the Hierophant without losing much in the way of control.
One thing I would have liked the book to contain was more ritual use outside the grade rituals and perhaps some proper techniques for ordinary rituals. The book is quite short and could easily have been expanded in this direction.
My one problem with the book is the excessive number of introductions. There is an excellent introduction from Tony Fuller which explains the work of Pat, and he did research the Whare Ra and Golden Dawn godforms. However, there then follows two largely pointless introductions from the publisher Lenny Pedersen and Martin Thibeault which did not need to be there and said very little. When you have a book which is only 143 pages long wasting 14 pages before getting to the subject is a little annoying and did not need to be there.
Pat and Tony Fuller have some more books which are coming out using this publisher which, like this book, will be a welcome addition to the evolving corpus of Golden Dawn material. You can get your hands on Pat’s book here.
In the last few years, a clique of fundamentalist occultists has emerged who claim that they are following the Original Golden Dawn system. They cut off all developments after Mathers was expelled. For those who don’t know, the central focus for this change means that the god-awful portal ritual in which the student is subjected to a boring lecture on diagrams and the Masonic style of giving the passwords and a funny handshake is superior to the longer more magical ritual which most people know about. The original ritual can be seen in my Mathers Last Secret Book because the AO could not be bothered changing it themselves.
So is there anything in the original Golden Dawn teachings that is better than the off-shoots by the rebels? The rituals are shorter and less poetic and closer to the Masonic model, some of the elements which most people like about the GD or the AO were not in the original. The mindset is more of co-masonry or SIRA with a downplaying of the magical elements (in the early GD the second order had not been adequately integrated into the second order…. indeed the moment that the second order was developed (and Mathers delivered the Tham papers) the London adepts started to rebel). It was new wine into old skins, and the Order had to restructure to accommodate it.
There is nothing in human history where the first draft is always better than the final copy. If you write a ritual or paper and it creates something living within you that act will unlock something new in you. You will then see the universe through that new information, and the original information will have to be changed and adapted. To say that the original Golden Dawn documents and rituals were perfect on their first draft implies that Mathers and Westcott were gods who had a clear perception of what the GD was and what it would do.
However, we know that this was not the case. When the original rituals were written there were no perceptions of a second order and the vision was a form of SRIA which included women. Information was still coming into the order as late as ten years after. It implies that not only were Mathers and Westcott gods, but the rebels who followed them were idiots who did not know what they were doing. If this were the case, then the GD system failed because it did not train anyone who could carry it on. Westcott and Mathers were not initiated using their rituals, so that means that if the rebels were failures, then it means that the original rituals did not work.
The issue here is that occultism is about time, training, focus and development. The follow-on orders had more time to understand and work with the rituals to know what needed to change and for students to develop parts of the ceremonies unworked by the founders. More modern students have even more advantages of applying information and teaching which was less accessible to those in the 19/20th centuries.
Claiming that the rebels (or the AO) were stupid for bringing in changes (such as the portal ritual and another teaching) implies a smug superiority born of insecurity. I would rather sit and talk occultism with Yeats, Mrs Mathers, Felkin, Brodie Innes, Taylor or any of the old Whare Ra members than any of these back to the early Golden Dawn types. All of them followed the GD system for most of their lives
Most fundamentalist quests are based on insecurities and inexperience and a hope that a human document is correct and cannot be changed.
If a single document or collection documents or rituals can be defined as “right”, then it means that others are wrong. If you follow this perfect document, you are “right”, and that rightness counters any gnawing personality problems. A fundamentalist must focus their intellect on one set of documents which reduces conflicts and enables a form of intellectual mastery which allows even a stupid person to look good. As a result, such movements are counter-evolutionary and opposed to intellectual development and therefore anti-magic which has been evolutionary from the start. Sure enough one of the standard bearers for this fundamentalist approach has already lectured me on the merits of a Masonic approach to the GD.
For those who came in late, a masonic approach means doing the ritual without godforms, suppressing magical claims and then having a good dinner afterwards while feeling happy and secure that you have higher grades than the rest of the people in your group.
Fundamentalism is always the swan song of a spiritual system before its collapse and replacement with something more akin to human life. Of course, this is where I get it in the neck for disagreeing with them. Fundamentalists are not a big fan of those who disagree with them. It implies they are wrong and if they are wrong then the universe where they, and only they, are important is under attack.
The rewrite of the history of Dr Felkin and Whare Ra, along with the 7=4 and 6=5 rituals is now out through Skylight Press, who also did my Magical Imagination book.
For those who saw the now improbably rare first edition, the book is much larger. It goes much more into the Whare Ra history from its beginning to closure. it looks at its involvement with Anne Davies and Paul Case and looks the the reason for its demise.
It also looks at the rituals and recounts some of the experiences of those who went through it and provides some of the teachings that they receieved. It also deals with some of my own experiences meeting and working with Whare Ra people.
Felkin has been dubbed the fool of the Golden Dawn by those who like to believe that the GD was working along masonic lines and that nothing was being channeled by secret chiefs. However all of the Golden Dawn was doing inner work, and all of them were channelling secret chiefs in some way. In that respect Felkin was no more foolish than Westcott or Mathers.
Reading of Felkin’s adventures is like something from a Victorian Boy’s Own magazine. He was a hard bitten missionary who travelled through Egypt during a war zone, met Gordon of Kartoom before he was killed. Avoided marterdom in West Africa and was an expert in tropical medicine.
I have to say the book would have been impossible were it not for the help received from Tony Fuller who helped considerably in providing me with information. More details can be found here.
Within the Golden Dawn corpus, there is a slightly odd ritual called the lesser banishing ritual of the hexagram. It is performed after a lesser ritual of the pentagram by adepts and various reasons have been provided for its existence mostly centred on an apparent need to neutralise any planetary energy before beginning a working.
Based on the drawing of two different triangles in different positions in the quarters it is the most used of a collection hexagrams. However, the root of the lesser banishing ritual of the hexagram might provide us with some clues as to its use and why it is an important daily practice for the modern magician.
One of the founders of the Golden Dawn took the triangle diagrams from a drawing of the Key of Solomon Magic Circle where it is placed in the outside circle along with the highest magical names of power. The triangles are not explained, but it seems likely to me that that they are geomantic symbols. Two of them (in the South and West) are variations on the geomantic symbols for Carcer, the East is Fortuna Minor and the last, in the North is Conjuncto. Within the circle of Key Solomon, these geomantic symbols make a great deal of sense. In this case, their role is creating a ring of protection around the magician.
When looking at Geomantic figures, it is a good idea to see them as a recipe which fuses together to create a powerful effect. In this case, we have a strong Saturnian flavour figures which form a separation between the outside world and what is in the circle. Carcer means Prison and is attributed to Saturn. The northern hexagram is the geomantic opposite to Carcer. Conjuctio is assigned to the mutable Mercury and draws things together rather than separate them. However, Conjuctio
to unite the other hexagrams to mark off and seal the protective circle.
Fortuna Minor in the East is an odd addition to the magic circle. It represents the Sun when it is setting, in other words, the sun as an old man. It is a symbol of the beginning of the night, the light shining in the dark. It is both the beginning (Genesis counted the day beginning at Sunset) and the end which makes it a good symbol for the start of a magic circle. The image of the old man also works with the concept of this magic circle being Saturnian and marking the passage of time. The Sun, in any format, is always going to have some protective aspect against darkness, but in this case, it is the herald of the dark. However, the East is where the Sun rises, so this geomantic symbol is placed in a position of reversing that idea. It is the process of Time as the protector of order (Aion the Roman god of time was Lion faced) and the continuation of everything that was.
The writer of the Key of Solomon would have been aware of the associations of the east so placing a seemingly contrary symbol there had a purpose. The goal of the magic circle was to contain and protect. Fortuna Maior and Fortuna Minor, can be best associated with wheels, circles, and cycles are both cycles and associated with time. Fortuna Minor is the downward part of the wheel of fortune and the weakening of active positive solar force and he move to constrained negative solar force. With this force rising in the east the stage is set for a time of darkness and restriction… ruled by the magical image of an old man. Fire and water are imprisoned (carcer) and everything is joined together in a boundary of mercury (conjucto). All rather useful for a defensive magic circle, but when the lesser banishing ritual of the hexagramis done you create the antithesis of restriction. Time is shattered, the fire and the waters are liberated and boundaries and restriction are dissolved
Drawing of geomantic symbols is a creative art. Traditionally they could be drawn by joining up the dots of a geomantic figure, differently. However geomantic figures did not have to be constructed using lines. They could also use shapes and curls, the lines containing the dots could be made closer or further apart to make more geometrically balanced shapes. Golden Dawn members were shown a list of some of these Geomantic shapes, but it is clear that this was only a starter kit so that the students were aware of the possibilities.
Geomantic symbols are important because they represent planetary force manifesting in the earth. They bring down power to a level where the magician can directly use it.
The Golden Dawn added to the lesser banishing ritual of the hexagram symbols by placing the points of each triangle onto the tree of life. One of the missing parts of Golden Dawn teaching about the Lesser hexagram was the critical placement of the solar symbol in the centre. So far, I have only seen this solar symbol in AO, but I doubt it, as NISI is rather early in AO history and did not seem to deviate much from early Golden Dawn teaching.
By doing this, Mathers provided an additional overlay of teaching which connected the triangles to the Tree of Life and showed how the planetary forces moved around Tiphareth. While this is useful to place the lesser banishing ritual of the hexagramin the context of the wider planetary hexes it has the function of enabling Mathers other innovation, the idea of creating a banishing and invoking an aspect to the hexagram. If you wanted to remove a force, you drew the triangles anti-clockwise from the planetary point and if you wanted to invoke you drew the towards the planetary symbol from the one before it. The second triangle is the mirror opposite of the first. This does not apply to the fourth hexagram where the triangles are flipped.
In the lesser banishing ritual of the hexagram, the use of banishing versions of the geomantic symbols makes for an impressive symbolic system. Rather than providing a magical circle, which the invoking ritual would still do, it serves to break down existing restrictions and structures. Rather than allowing the constrictive, separate prisons of the double carcer symbols, it banishes any limitations which might be there. Rather than setting boundaries or uniting forces in the circle with the conjuncto symbol it is breaking them down or destroying all connections. The banishing of the sun at midnight is the removal of the element of time and the divine order. This would render the immediate environment chaotic.
So why is this important?
When you perform a magical act, you are creating a change in the status quo and challenging the natural Saturnian force. Some of these limitations will exist in the magician, others from society and on a broader scale the natural flow of the universe. By rendering the space antagonistic to Saturnian inertia you are giving your magic a chance.
But it is important to realise that with the lesser banishing ritual of the hexagram you are creating chaos which allows the universe to be reassembled in the image that the magician wishes. For some types of magic a lesser banishing ritual of the hexagram beforehand would not be a good idea. If you are trying to use magic to take control of an already chaotic situation, it would be unwise to banish Saturn because you are making matters worse.
There is an additional point which applies more when you have made magic your life. That is that continual attempts to change the universe, or the move to do something significant creates a backlash from those Saturn forces which seek to keep things the same. The myth of Saturn and Jupiter and the war of the Titans applies here. At a certain point in your magical career you will be a symbol of a force for change and like Jupiter be a target for those forces of inertia that insist that things stay the same.
What is worrying is very often you are unaware of it or might mistake the process for a spiritual test. What you will notice is that your magic does not work in the same way as it did, you might find it challenging to meet your spiritual contacts, or find yourself too tired to do magical work. It is similar to the inertia that someone has when starting the work. However, unlike that stage of your personal development, forcing yourself to be more disciplined does not resolve the matter, in fact, it might make it worse.
Performing a daily lesser banishing ritual of the hexagram would help prevent this backlash before it becomes too crippling, you will always face this particular issue (it is part of the natural way the universe works), but at least it will not harm you too much.
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram becomes an important mini-ritual for Golden Dawn practitioners which has less to do with its planetary attributions and more to do with the forces of order and chaos and creating the right circumstances for your magic to work.
The lesser banishing ritual of the hexagram deserves to be performed in most workings (after the first lesser ritual of the pentagram) when the ceremony requires some change to an existing order. It should also be done regularly with the intention of counteracting those forces of normality which restrict evolution. If the latter is performed, it might be appropriate to call upon Jupiter for assistance.
One of the most interesting Whare Ra members was Andrew Hamilton Russell (23 February 1868 – 29 November 1960) who is one of New Zealand’s great military heroes.
Having served with the British army in India in August 1892, he got bored and returned to farming in Hawkes Bay. He helped form the Farmer’s Union and became involved conservative politics in NZ.
In 1899 he raised a militia for the Boer War (the Wellington (East Coast) Mounted Rifles Regiment), although he did not go with them to South Africa.
He was a lot more hands on in 1913 when he was the leader of a Massey’s Cossacks which was a cavalry unit formed from famers who aggressively put down striking workers. His troops were farmers who wanted to show these commo city types who was boss.
Russell was one of the founder members of Whare Ra in 1914 and was named as Dr Felkin’s successor as Grandmaster of the Order of the Table Round when Felkin died. He was installed in the role but had to resign when WWII broke out he resigned. Reginald Gardiner was installed as the third Grandmaster in his place. The official record is a little confused as to how long Russell was the Grandmaster of OTR, claiming that he had to resign at the outbreak of WW1, however Felkin was still alive at that point and still the Grandmaster.
History might have looked unfavourably upon the strike breaking Russell had he not brilliantly led the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade upon the outbreak of World War One, and rose swiftly to high command during the Gallipoli Campaign.
He commanded the ANZAC evacuation from Gallipoli, and went on to achieve further distinction as the commander of the New Zealand Division on the Western Front in 1917 and 1918. He effectively turned the NZ forces into the best in the line despite disastrous campaign decisions by other British commanders. What made him different from his British counterparts was he could put his hand up and admit he made a mistake as he did after the First Battle of Passchendaele which killed more NZ soldiers in a single day than any other event. With artillery hampered by rain and mud, an attack on Bellevue Spur faltered, leaving more than 800 New Zealanders killed and almost 2000 wounded or missing. This represents the highest recorded loss of New Zealand lives in a single day, He nearly was killed by a German sniper who managed to pierce his helmet when he was visiting a forward trench.
Russell was a strict disciplinarian, and dealt with deserters by having them shot. The five he ordered executed were later posthumously pardoned in 1980.
Never the less he returned home loaded with titles and was hailed in Maori, as ‘Ariki Toa’, The Fight Chief Sent Forward To Lead.” Golden Dawn historian Tony Fuller said that Russell handed Whare Ra his bayonet which was used as the sword of the Heirus which seems rather appropriate.
After the war he spent two years in bed recovering. During WW2 Russell became the Inspector General of New Zealand Military Forces, before retiring again in July 1941, aged 73.
Russell’s military achievements were recognised with a CB in 1916 and, in 1917, a KCB. He was awarded the French Légion d’honneur (croix d’officier) and Croix de guerre (avec palme), the Belgian Ordre de Léopold (commander) and Croix de guerre, the Serbian Order of the White Eagle (first class) and the Montenegrin Order of Danil
Russell died at Tunanui on 29 November 1960, aged 92, and received a funeral service with full military honours. He was survived by his wife, three daughters and a son. The Obituaries on his death note that he was widely read, fluent in French (he read Proust in the original), an enthusiastic cellist, an opera lover, and a brilliant conversationalist. Despite these gifts, Russell, a man of strong Anglican religious convictions, was self-effacing and modest. Of course it fails to mention that he was senior adept in the Golden Dawn tradition.
Crowlyite followers are celebrating some anniversary of Aleister Crowley at the moment and there seems to be an effort to whitewash some of the Great Beast’s darker aspects.
It is well known that Crowley was anti-Semitic, misogynistic, bully who tortured and exploited his students. However, there is now an attempt to paint him as a “man of his time” who was nevertheless attempting to push back the boundaries.
This is the pop-culture Sergeant Pepper’s view of Crowley which has nothing to do with the real person, who would look with much contempt at those who see him as a counter-culture icon.
One of the more obvious things that people have been doing is scouring what Crowley has written for “proof” that he was none of the things people said about him. For example, the anti-semitic label can be dismissed because he once wrote: “No people can show finer specimens of humanity. The Hebrew poets and prophets are sublime. The Jewish soldier is courageous, the Jewish rich man generous. The race possesses imagination, romance, loyalty, probity and humanity in an exceptional degree.”
However what needs to be set against this are more damning quotes like: “A similar case is presented by the Jew, who really does only too often possess the bad qualities for which he is disliked; but they are not proper to his race” and “In the previous spasm she had rushed to the registrar the most nauseating colopter that ever came under my microscope. It was a Whitechapel Jew.”
What is more dangerous is that this racism leaks into his teaching. For example he identifies the “evil” form of Aries rising as Jewish: “One must further remark that each sign governs two main types … the active and the passive. Thus Aries: the high brows, long face, aquiline nose, tall thin muscular figure, shows the fiery and martial qualities of the sign. But there is an evil and averse counterpart corresponding to the ovine nature. We have the gross, hooked, pendulous proboscis; the thick, flabby, moist lips; the patient stupid eyes, and timid, hunted gait of the bad type of Jew.”
Crowley was also a conspiracy nut believing in the Protocols of Zion and repeat some of the allegations as fact. In his “Preface to Sepher Sephiroth”, originally published in Equinox 1:8. Written in 1911 he wrote:
“Human sacrifices are today still practised by the Jews of Eastern Europe, as is set forth at length by the late Sir Richard Burton in the MS. which the wealthy Jews of England have compassed heaven and earth to suppress and evidenced by the ever-recurring Pogroms against which so senseless an outcry is made by those who live among those degenerate Jews who are at least not cannibals.”
For those who came in late, Jews were frequently accused of ritual sacrifice, murder, and cannibalism in Eastern Europe since the Middle Ages is called “the blood libel against the Jews” — a malicious falsehood (libel) that claims that Jews drink the blood of human victims as part of their rituals — that ritual human sacrifice is part of Jewish religion.
Those seeking to white wash Crowley quote him saying this about the Chinese: “I realised instantly their spiritual superiority to the Anglo-Saxon, and my own deep-seated affinity to their point of view.” After meeting the consul of Tengyueh: “We met with a warm welcome at the consulate from Litton’s Chinese wife, an exceedingly beautiful woman with perfect manners. They had five charming children.”
Compare that to the following: “One cannot fraternise with the Chinese of the lower classes; one must treat them with absolute contempt and callousness.”
What we see in these conflicting quotes, and there are many, that Crowley might respect individuals but hate the race in general. For example, the Solicitor-General of Ceylon, the Hon. P. Ramanathan, was a “man of charming personality, wide culture and profound religious knowledge” yet the people were “idle irresponsible people, purring with placid pleasure.”
So, what about the concept that Crowley was just a “man of his time and class.” There was nothing unusual about being a racist bigot then, everyone was.
However, that is historical re-positioning of the type that gets on my tits. Sure, you can find evidence of backward racism in that time, but in the style and to Crowley’s level you should start reading racists condemned by both mainstream conservatives and liberals alike. It is important remember that Crowley was not American, and the racism of the UK was different, and less obvious, from that of New World. A US clansman would be as unwelcome among the English aristocratic far-right of Crowley’s time. For Crowley to write that sort of stuff crossed too many lines.
This blog cannot deal in detail with Crowley’s obvious hatred of women which are often white washed with long quotes from the Book of the Law about how important women were. However there are darker quotes which suggest that is largely meaningless:
“… morally and mentally, women were for me beneath contempt. They had no true moral ideals. They were bound up with their necessary preoccupation, with the function of reproduction. Their apparent aspirations were camouflage. Intellectually, of course, they did not exist. Even the few whose minds were not completely blank had them furnished with Wardour Street Chippendale. Their attainments were those of the ape and the parrot. These facts did not deter me. On the contrary, it was highly convenient that one’s sexual relations should be with an animal with no consciousness beyond sex.”
Unless Crowley were a southern back-woodsman, this sort of mindset was long out-of-date and completely out of keeping with the equality suggested by both the Golden Dawn and his own magical teachings.
What most people do not want to understand when they read Crowley is that they are not looking at a 1960’s love guru with progressive views. Just because someone takes drugs and sleeps around with different genders does not make them progressive. There are many gay right-wingers (usually full of self-hate)
In fact, Crowley wanted a new aristocracy which could pursue long-range goals without the encumbrances of pandering to democratic whims. Crowley described a government following a Thelemic course as one in which, far from a hedonistic free-for-all, “set[s] limits to individual freedom. For each man in this state which I propose is fulfilling his own True Will by his eager Acquiescence in the Order necessary to the Welfare of all, and therefore of himself also.”*
My view of Crowley is not that he was an evil black magician, but someone who did some good stuff but failed to deal with his own stuff. This unbalanced before he started to deal with the heavy stuff. While it was wrong for him to be blackballed from the GD for being gay, I am not really sure that was entirely the reason. He was a young arrogant twat, who developed without guidance to be an old autocratic arrogant twat who knew a bit about magic. His inherent anger and violence against students like Victor Neuburg, coupled with his messianic megalomania undid a lot of his cleverer stuff. What Crowley was doing was not hedonism or free thinking, it was compulsive and destructive.
Whitewashing this out of Crowley, presumably to keep him as the 1960’s guru image does him no service. Not only do we get an incorrect assessment of the person, we are unable to fix his mistakes.
Indeed, while justifying him, you repeat his mistakes. There are Thelemites who think it is ok to treat women like sex slaves because Crowley did it. I have a friend who suffered appalling at the hands of the Canadian OTO for the crime of being a strong woman.
Fashionable fascism is now a thing worldwide and Crowley’s teachings are a magnet for those who consider themselves hedonistic libertines. Unless Crowley’s fascist, white-superiority and backward leanings are shown for what they are, then there is a danger they will corrupt and contaminate any chance of a spiritual awakening from those who follow that way. Crowley could become the justification for every right-wing autocratic bullying occult leader to give in to their psychology.
* Crowley, The Book of Wisdom or Folly, Samuel Weiser, 1991, Liber Aleph Vel CXI, De Ordine Rerum, clause 39.
Whare Ra differed from the other Golden Dawn groups because of a little ritual called the Etheric Link. The ritual was given out after the 7=4 and was supposed to provide a direct connection to the Rosicrucian current.
The Link ritual was obtained by Robert Felkin from Rudolf Steiner when the latter was still a Rosicrucian. There are several theories as to where Steiner obtained the ritual, which are historically interesting, but not the subject of this article. I am more interested in what the Link does and what it represented at Whare Ra. Please note that these are my ideas, and are not official and are up for debate.
The Golden Dawn writer Pat Zalewski once said that the Etheric Link ritual represented the end of a process which started in the 0=0. There the candidate is linked to the current as part of the rite. It is strengthened at each initiation and always as part of the egregore of the order. Finally, in the 7=4, the candidate gets their own version of the link which is independent of the Order.
In theory, this means that the candidate can form their own order, or go off and do their own thing. Note this does not mean that they are allowed to go off and form another Whare Ra temple. That required a note from the chief of the order, a note from their parents, and at least three forms of ID and a utility bill. Golden Dawn researcher Tony Fuller has said that in different periods of Whare Ra history the Link was given only to chiefs or those who might one day become chiefs. However, the link later was given to others normally after the 7=4. In fact we have evidence of this in the form of the two great initiators of the post-Whare Ra adepts Frank Salt and Jack Taylor who were not order chiefs (however senior they were in Whare Ra) but had the link and did pass it on to their students.
Tony Fuller has found evidence that the Felkin used to give the link out at any point in the second order where the candidate needed it. (Often at 5=6) although he did give it to Westcott at 6=5 (he also gave him the 5=6 and the 7=4) . At some point it was bumped up to 7=4 with Jack Taylor referring to it as a capping off process. This could suggest that either the later chiefs felt it too powerful for a 5=6 and/or discovered something new about it which Felkin either did not know or had not spotted.
So the question is what IS the link and what did it do?
Felkin believed that the ritual gave the candidate an etheric link to Christian Rosensenkreutz so that the person became his “son” and “spiritual heir.” This is a spiritual leadership role within the Rosicrucian movement. CRC was the initiator and the creator of the Rosicrucian Order. So in many ways it was the right to initiate into the Second Order of the Golden Dawn.
This provided Felkin’s order with a Rosicrucian connection which gave it legitimacy.
In this context, it was important for Felkin who needed to establish a Rosicrucian link which was better than whatever it was that Mathers was offering. While it is possible it is unlikely that the link was written by Steiner and may have some connections with earlier masonic/Rosicrucian bodies, what the physical link ritual did became irrelevant.
It is the nature of magic that something which appears as one thing can be transmuted over time into something else. New Zealand was disconnected from the European occult scene and here was a ritual that patched its adepts into the Hermetic and Rosicrucian current – the Western Mystery Tradition. To the adepts who accepted the link it became something else.
It was not going to provide them with the authority of lineage, at least not in the sense that a mason would understand it. But then, they did not need it – they had Whare Ra and that was not really going anywhere.
Firstly, it gave them the power to initiate into the second order. When you perform a second order initiation you have to make several connections at the same time. You have to connect to the egregore of the second order and also the divine. The Godform of CRC acts as an intermediary between these two forces, forging a chain between god, the order and the candidate.
The connection with CRC represents the Rosicrucian tradition and the position as a son of CRC enables the initiation to take place.
This chain though is connected through history and not just Rosicrucianism, but all those orders and magicians which gave birth to that particular movement.
One initiate’s experience of the link ceremony was that it opened up a vortex in front of him, like a time tunnel.
“I saw CRC, but it went much further back. I followed it until I found myself besides a great river near a mud hut with rough wooden statue of Thoth outside. An Ibis landed on the river and I realised that this was the birth of Hermeticism.”
Another person told me that they felt the link was like a long huge Akashic library in which all occult knowledge was written. A book was each adept’s contribution to the Great Work.
Another who was less impressed with his experience said he had the impression of the age of an ancient tomb and a person who was old was watching him.
One thing you notice is that the experience of the link is subjective but the symbols are similar – ideas of profound knowledge spanning back over time.
Another thing about the link is, like many initiations, sometimes it “takes” and sometimes it does not. If it does not there is nothing bad. The person’s occult work is always focused in service within the order which gives them the link. They do not need to draw on information, or energies which do not come from that.
When the link takes there is a desire to research and to create your own contribution to the tradition. To be your own link in the chain. It might be to be a leader, or it might simply be a desire to share your slant on the mysteries with your students. You will train your students until they are ready for you to pass the link onto them so that the Chain of Hermes is never broken.
How long should you be in an esoteric order before you are capable of actually doing something useful?
In a recent debate about the merits of one group I was surprised how many people were proud of the numbers of years they had studied within an organisation. However, at the same time they did not show any signs that they could act independently of it.
A group is not supposed to be the beginning and end of a magician’s work. It is supposed to be training them to work independently, carry out their research and magical work. Sure, a substantial chunk of the early work is personality development, and this balancing work can be long and arduous but at the end the day a group is supposed to train you to be a magician.
You are supposed to reach a point where you can find a need for magic and have a broad idea how to do it. Sure, you might be terrified and inexperienced but you have a rough idea what is happening.
The Golden Dawn set the outer order as its personality balancing time and assisted the student with initiations which enhanced that experience. It is not always enough time, and people are often burnt during the study phase, but it does give you an idea.
For the first two and half years (if you rushed it) you would dedicate to balancing your personality and carrying out some basic intellectual study so that you knew what roughly what you were doing. There was little practical work because you were integrating the experiences of the initiations which had a direct impact in your life. Most people never manage this process within the two and half years, mostly it takes three to four as part of the balancing carries out in life events which take time to play out.
The result of this is that the person is “mostly themselves.” They are not perfect, but they are a lot more confident, informed and ready to be a magician.
In the 5=6 true magical training takes place. This is where the person starts to practically learn the art of magic based on the school and their appointed teacher. This process should take about five years, depending on many numerous factors and the dedication of the person. Practice is a key part of this process. It is not so much looking a manuscript and intellectually picking it to bits, it is doing. Most people stay in this state for longer than they need to because “doing” is the hard bit.
The student then enters the next phase. They magically know what they are doing, they have made and deepened their contacts and automatically work regularly. Most specialise, or move onto their own projects. Some teach. It is more than likely that they will leave the order because they do not practically need it. Information will come to them from other sources. Others will stay because the Order is a place of like minds and provides them with support and information. Some groups offer initiations to help with the higher grades work, but, however useful they might be, the magician at this point is independent. When they need it, the gods initiate them.
This does not mean thatthey know everything. In fact they will need their Order to provide them with missing pieces of research. If they have left an order or the group cannot tell them the answer to their question they will have to find those missing pieces elsewhere. Approaching others requires something that many magicians in this position do not really understand – they have to be humble. A lot of bullshit in the magical community is caused by people pretending they know it all when they don’t know anything. One of the saddest things is hearing adepts using bullshit ideas in their magical work because the person in charge of their Order did not have the courage to say “I don’t know.”
Magical independence is an ideal and people will take a lot longer to move through these stages, but the point is that the Order is not ever meant to be the focus of their work. The Order is supposed to help them develop so that they can become a magician. If they stay once they have done this it is out of service to the Order, not because it is the focus of your magical work.
In many ways Orders are like a large (sometimes dysfunctional) family. The goal of an Order is to turn children into adults as quickly as possible so the parents can have a life too. Once a child is an adult they go on to have families of their own. They remain tied to the family through bonds of blood, show up from time to time and help out. However, there is nothing sadder than a child who never grows up and stays at home for decades after they are meant to leave. Occult orders who encourage that are not really doing what they claim.
One group provides written materials which, if followed, would take up most of a person’s life. But if it had been focused on making the person independent most of the information was unnecessary. It is intellectual material that the student should have been able to work out on their own if they needed it.
Another idea is to keep inventing ever higher grades and initiations to create the illusion that the student will “get better” if they still be in a group.
However, the point of independence is well below any grade structure. If a person stays in an order so that they can get their Grand Order of the Golden Duck and Silver Goose grade they have failed the much lower 5=6 grade. Orders like this are like families who bribe their kids to stay at home by putting an extension on their bedrooms, or allowing them to use their sister’s room now that she has married. Orders that give higher grades to independent adepts are like families who save up to put their kids through university, or stump up for the deposit of their first house.
After the closure of Whare Ra bought to an end the old Golden Dawn lineage, their have been numerous groups started by those either using Israel Regardie’s Golden Dawn books, or old papers and manuscripts claiming that they are “traditional.” Some of these modern Golden Dawn, various groups have been falling over themselves to prove that they use traditional Golden Dawn methods. Even though various Golden Dawn groups had problems or flaws in their teaching, the word traditional is synonymous with better with no one wanting to say that they are “new and improved.”
At the same time the new traditionalists do not want to appear as if they are stuck in the mud and living in the Victorian period. They rightly suggest that the tradition must move with the times. Thus, they can have their cake and eat it too.
What is lacking in these arguments is a definition of what traditional Golden Dawn really is, beyond an appeal to bogus “marketing.”
Some groups have tried to define the Golden Dawn tradition by trying to find what is called in masonry “landmarks.” These are the parts of an order which if they were removed or changed would make it something different. The term is biblical and comes from Proverbs 22:28: “Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set”, referring to stone pillars set to mark boundaries
The Masonic Landmarks are clear. There had to be a belief in a Supreme Being, immortality of the soul, a book of sacred law, the use of a legend in the Third Degree, passwords and the use of a symbolic Lodge ritual and that the Mason is a freeborn man of lawful age.
These appear to be incredibly wide but, while you would think that this would be easy, the Golden Dawn has a problem pinning down what its landmarks are. Websters dictionary says that tradition is an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behaviour (such as a religious practice or a social custom). When we look at the Golden Dawn we must look at it for these criteria. Logic would say that if a group deviates from such a pattern of behaviour it stops being traditional.
Traditional through Isis-Urania
So, let us look at the foundation of the Golden Dawn tradition the Isis-Urania temple in London. That group was founded on rituals which were based on the Cipher manuscripts. Samuel Mathers used these skeleton documents to build the rituals for the 0=0 to the 4=7 and these rites were used throughout the history of the order. Logically we would think that these should give us a clear pattern of what the tradition should be. If that is the case then it is safe to say that we are looking at a quasi-Masonic rite performed by a small group of people in someone’s house. In the early days, there were unlikely to be many robes worn with the only uniform piece of equipment that was compulsory was the sash.
So from this we can say that the traditional Golden Dawn is actually a non-magical organisation of five rituals based on the Cipher manuscripts. These would appear then to be the landmarks of the Golden Dawn and if you changed these, it would cease to be Golden Dawn.
But after a couple of years, the Golden Dawn writes the Portal ceremony. I published this early ritual for the first time in Mather’s Last Secret. It uses a slightly different set of formulas for the logic of the ritual than the Cipher manuscripts. It also removes most of the officers and the map of the temple floor.
So does this mean that Isis-Urania stopped being a traditional Golden Dawn when Mathers wrote the new Portal? Of course not, but it means that the Ciphers were not written in stone and the order had the flexibility to develop them. In later years, few people even saw the Ciphers or knew of their existence, if they were going to be landmarks then they were going to be invisible.
Things became even less traditional when the Second Order was lowered on top of the Golden Dawn and in particular the Z documents. On the face of it the Z documents provide the guidelines for the ritual equipment and practices that were already going on. However, they also add a lot more to the mix which could not be considered traditional by the earlier standards. A wand was no longer just the symbol of the Heirophant’s directing power and its symbolism was spelt out. The wands represented parts of the tree, so when you held it in one part you were using the power of the path. Also the Z documents added layer upon layer to the 0=0 ritual making it truly magical.
Logically then this would be the time to say that the Golden Dawn Tradition began.
It would be familiar to modern Golden Dawn people at this time. It was the period of Yeats, Farr, and Crowley it was the brief moment that the teaching and ritual practices were stable.
Unfortunately, this is untrue either. Practice varied wildly between the different temples. The Bradford Temple was only accepting Masons and therefore did not allow women to join, something which was against the Second Order Oath. There are subtle differences between some of the manuscripts.
Traditional through the Z-documents
The Z documents were often not being used either. One of the most senior members of the Golden Dawn Edward Berridge, who at various points was Mathers’ representative in London, did not have a copy and so cannot have been carrying out any of the visualisations and magic contained in them.
Later he went on to head Mathers’ London temple and had to ask Wynn Westcott for a copy and it is a moot point if he used them from that point either. No copy of the Z documents turned up in the Nisi collection which I based Mather’s Last Secret upon.
Arthur Waite’s spin-off order also rejected their use and while the Stella Matutina and the Paris Temple of the AO were enthusiastic supporters, the other temples were not. Clearly the Z documents were not landmarks either.
The version of the Z documents which have ended up in the in Yeats collection in the Dublin Yeats museum is much more the masonic version than it was to the modern Orders. Robes were still optional and the only thing a normal member needed to bring with them to attend a meeting
was their sash.
The Z documents also did not apply to the elemental grades but only the 0=0. It was this style of working with Mathers took with him into his AO. In I pointed out how there was very little in the AO which was not from He changed the name of the Order, but referred to as the Golden Dawn in most of the elemental grade rituals. He also added an additional sequence to the 0=0 ritual which was taken from the Golden Dawn’s Equinox ceremony.
He continued to use the early Portal Ritual and added few papers. This on paper would apparently make Mathers’ AO more traditional than what was being formed by the rebels. But Berridge’s London temple lacked a vault and many adepts never took part in the 5=6 ritual. A ritual was not required for the 6=5 and 7=4 ritual either. This involved writing a cheque to Mathers and for passwords and grade signs to be given by a temple chief. The 6=5 was published in full in Tabatha Cicero’s Concourse of the Watchtowers book and show that such grades were more administrative than magical.
Not only did they change their name throughout their rituals they also rewrote the Portal and merged speeches to make them easier to perform. When the Order split into those who favoured the Christian mystical approach and those who wanted Magic there were even more changes.
Waite purged as much of the Z documents as possible and rewrote the rituals based on the Cipher manuscripts. Felkin’s Stella Matutina made further changes to the Portal and then added new 6=5, 7=4, 8=3, and 9=2 rituals.
Unlike Berridge, Felkin and Brodie-Innes did stick to the Z documents. Felkin’s New Zealand temple continued to research all this during its long history.
So does this mean that any of the off-shoots of the Golden Dawn were not traditional? The point is that the members themselves thought they were. Although Felkin and, for that matter Yeats, had been around to see the original Golden Dawn, their feelings were that they had made changes to the rituals that had improved them. Indeed, their ceremonies were in use a lot longer than any of the original Golden Dawn rituals.
Traditional Bristol Temple
It can equally be said that the Bristol temple was traditional when Israel Regardie was a member of it, even though a few years before he joined, they were experimenting with rituals which had been cut, so that diagrams which were exposed to the candidate’s sphere of sensation during the rituals, were simply shown to them during their study. After Regardie printed these cut-down rituals Bristol went back to their old ones.
It is ironic that these experimental rituals were published and have become seen as the orthodox tradition. One modern Golden Dawn chief once told me that she treated the six edition of the Golden Dawn book (nicknamed the black book) as the Bible of the Golden Dawn. Another Golden Dawn chief said that he didn’t want to run his temple like Mathers or Westcott, he wanted to do it like Regardie.
Such statements are important because they show the problems that many modern Golden Dawn people have equating what Regardie experienced and then suggested over the years with the Tradition.
Regardie himself made several significant changes to the Tradition which was not followed elsewhere. The first was the emphasis on psychology in magic which flowered by the 1970s but was mirrored by Dion Fortune in the UK. Unlike Fortune, Regardie was not impressed with the Inner Tradition of the Golden Dawn.
After his 5=6 in Bristol he went into the vault and one of the officers channelled a message from the secret chiefs (Ironically a prophecy about taking the Golden Dawn current to the United States). Regardie had seen something similar with Crowley and the shrink in him felt that it just came from a person’s unconscious. He passed on this prejudice to many modern Golden Dawn groups who do not try such contacts. Regardie also downplayed the importance of the elemental grades suggesting that people only needed to perform the watchtower ceremony to replace them.
In some cases, Regardie had no influence. One of his children was the Order of the Sphinx and Pyramid which was formed by Tamara Bourkoun. After she moved back to the UK in the 1960s she asked him for help to establish a Golden Dawn group which would act as an outer face for an Enochian based second Order she was creating. Like Regardie suggested, Tamara Bourkoun used cut down Golden Dawn rituals taken straight from his book. But in addition to that she was heavily into a form of Enochian channelling from several secret chiefs. Members of this group would go on to form the Order of the Cubic Stone, but would dump all semblance of Golden Dawn material and its chiefs would bend the ear about how bad the system was to anyone who would listen. Regardie thought the channelling was insane and declared Bourkoun “nuts.”
Contacts and channelling
The use of contacts was very much part of the Golden Dawn tradition. Other than Berridge, Brodie-Innes and Mathers had very specific ideas as to making contacts with the secret chiefs. These ideas would be passed on to the Cromlech Temple, and to the Society of Inner Light through the teachings of the AO initiate Dion Fortune. This means that anyone who follows Regardie’s line on Inner Plane contacts or the psychological approach is not following “the tradition.”
It would be easy for those who want to “sell” their group as traditional by claiming that their system is based on a particular epoch of the Golden Dawn tradition.
But if you take traditional Whare Ra for example this is equally a hiding to nowhere. The order had several distinct phases. For example, Mrs. Felkin when through a seven ray phase which would seem alien to many Modern Golden Dawn groups. In addition, many different Hierophants would do things differently. A senior adept in Whare Ra Barbara Nairn commenting on a workshop I gave about contacts said that it was something she had heard at Whare Ra but was not talked about for years.
Frank Salt, who has led one off-shoot of Whare Ra, had a different view of magic from Jack Taylor who led another. Barbara Nairn also did things differently. Some of this had to do with the way their spiritual path developed after Whare Ra closed. Jack Taylor was more interested in colour magic around the time he died. The Arthurian System of the Order of the Table Round influenced Percy Wilkinson.
Another argument is by those who want to recreate their order based on documents that Yeats had. Sadly, Yeats must have had lots of them in his time. He was a member of the Golden Dawn and the Stella Matutina and some of them are wildly contradictory.
So what we have to wonder is when an Order stops being Golden Dawn and starts to be something else? It is not a simple matter. Like I said there are no clear landmarks which anyone can identify. Golden Dawn groups will, by their very nature, emphasise some things more than another. A Golden Dawn group which uses the rituals is still a Golden Dawn group and so is one which looks at inner or magical techniques. Even a group which rejected the Z documents, such as Waite’s Rectified Rite, still functions within the Golden Dawn egregore.
Those who might not like what one Golden Dawn group does, must accept that they are part of the same egregore because they also take on most what they do too. That is unless that they decide not to be part of that egregrore.
In the case of the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea we have made changes to the way godforms work. This is because we lean toward a more pagan approach to Godforms. We also use something like a contact system and inner temples.
I have edited the Whare Ra rituals to use modern English because we are based in Rome and a lot of our members have English as a second language.
We also use more modern translations of Bible verses and the Chaldean oracles. We also have a consensus based leadership with changes to the system being talked through with all the Temple chiefs before they are enacted. Yet we have many connections and teachings which came from Whare Ra; we use the same rituals, and share many of the same ideas.
This is the point. There are no landmarks in the Golden Dawn and anyone can be traditional, or not, or even part of the Golden Dawn if they believe it. This is not the sort of landmark which would make many modern Golden Dawn members comfortable, it would mean that they would share an egregore with lots of groups that they have wild disagreements with. But it is better that than building your temple from what you think your landmarks are, and then discovering that someone in your Order’s history moved the boundary posts.
This post first appeared in Hermetic Virtues in 2012. I have re-spun the end a bit because I notice that people are still talking about Golden Dawn landmarks and being a traditional Golden Dawn Group.
The Golden Dawn has more masonic hang-overs than the morning after Christmas dinner with a free bar at United Grand Lodge.
Some of these are useful, because they have generic magical over tones, and some are only there because they are part of a tradition that no one wants to spoil. The concept being that since the GD was formed by masons we should not touch these things.
However, it is important to point out that, contrary to myth, none of the Golden Dawn founders were particularly enthusiastic masons but both Westcott and Mathers started out their lives in masonic groups and so were trained in a masonic way of doing things. The Cipher manuscripts were written by a masonic expert and enthusiast so some of these ideas seeped into the final result. Some of these things were relevant and some of them less so.
The funny handshake: There are two funny handshakes in the Golden Dawn and another one in the second order. The point of these comes from masonry and is a method of recognition. I have seen some Golden People strain their brains to come up with magical reasons for the funny handshake. Often they try and quote a second order paper where the fingers add up to magical forces. However given that the first grip only connects with the fingers and not the thumbs, you have to question yourself as to what the magical significance of not having mars involved in the 0=0 equation really means and why there is a difference between that and the other grips. To quote Dr Who “I love humanity they are always seeing things which are not really there.” The reality is that masons needed a grip so the GD had to have one to. From a magical perspective it is redundant, as shown by the number of occasions you have to give it. One Golden Dawn order used to require members to que up to enter the temple and give the handshake and whisper the password to the sentinel to get in – all forced, masonic and all un-necessary. Anyone who has read a GD book knows the funny handshake (much like the masonic equivalent) so its security purpose is redundant. If it lacks a security function then it needs a magical one…. Nope much good there either, the ritual does not depend on you symbolically shaking hands with your fraters and sorors (it is not in the script). Unlike the grade signs has no inner use either because you don’t tend to shake hands with strange beings to test them (not unless you want the same number of fingers you had before you started shaking back).
The silly walk: The step is supposed to show your entry into the temple of the mysteries it is followed up by the one which is called “six by six” in future grades. Other than giving the Golden Dawn a masonic step it does not need, the symbolism is pointless. Even if the fact that you have stepped into the temple was worthwhile recognising as a symbolic act, bringing the other left up for “six by six” is an invitation for a snooze. There is no being, astral, or otherwise which wants to see you symbolically made a step and then, with all the smug manner of someone who feels that they have got another grade, bring the other leg up. Even if this were a symbol on all Egyptian statues (it isn’t… they all lead with the left leg because offerings were usually put on the left side.) then it still needs to have a meaning.
The Sash: In the early Golden Dawn you should show up at meeting naked but for your sash and still get in. Not that anyone tried, but you didn’t need a robe and could wear your street clothes. But really this masonic piece of regalia is one of the most useless things to come out of the Golden Dawn. Before the invention of velcro it would fall off your shoulders and had all of the magical impact of Scout badges. More ink has been wasted on the colours of the damn things than is justified and, after you have done a grade you have to sew on some more. Magically it shows what has been stamped into your sphere of sensation by the ritual. But that should be a private thing, it is not and should not be used to show that you are something better than someone who has not got orange strips on theirs. When officers wear theirs, it magically confuses the person with their role. So, if the Kerux has their 4=7 stripes, it means that the candidate confuses that grade with the officer (who is actually a 2=9). If the officers take them off, then why does everyone else bother wearing them? In sort, it is masonic baggage (in my view they should be presented at the initiation and never seen again).
Rather than looking for more meanings here than there need to be it is best just to accept that they are masonic baggage which have not much use. For what it is worth most these are still used in MOAA, but are seen for what they are – historical baggage.
And before someone complaints that I am being anti-masonic… I am not. I am just saying that there are limits to masonic mimicking which is required by a proper magical order.