The Internet has been seeing a debate about the influence of religion in the Golden Dawn. One person said she had problems with the Golden Dawn work because she had largely “lost her faith” as a result of her experiences with Roman Catholicism.
The Golden Dawn makes the claim that it is religion non-specific and the second order requires you to be sympathetic to Christian symbolism.
Most of those who followed the Golden Dawn historically have been Christian, although extremely unorthodox, and in modern times there have been those who have been interested in paganism.
One of the main weaknesses of the atheism of people like Richard Dawkins is that it is entirely based on the assumption that religion is comfortably defined by its theology. This makes it easy to rebut because it is entrenched. However I can get through the ‘God delusion’ agreeing with most of it and saying that Dawkins has not even begun to address what I believe. My ‘religion’ is different and it will be different tomorrow too.
To prove the existence of God I do not have to accept the dogma of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism or anything. I can accept the ‘big bang’, evolution, dinosaurs, all the scientific proof offered, I can deny the literal existence of the flood, chariot wheels in the Red Sea and get on with it.
Although my spiritual path started within Christianity, after many years I have come to the conclusion that I am not even remotely Christian or believe in any religious package that has evolved through time. To me occultism ultimately creates a system that leads to the founding of your own religion based on ideas nicked from many different sources. I am influenced by Kabbalah but that is because the mystical nature of the system is extremely generic. Despite Jewish ancestors (until my Grandfather) I have no wish to follow that spiritual path. I personally think that God has better things to do than monitor my eating habits and anything that is based on unshakeable rules is not really for me (I am currently working on getting around the law of gravity).
So what has replaced exoteric religion for me? Something else. If I were to tell it to you and you believed it would be a exoteric religion too and thus the point defeated. But I can tell you how I got my religion.
Occultism loves the idea of masks. In the GD there are lines like “the priest with the mask of Isis spake and said”. It is one step from masking ‘pagan’ gods to masking monotheistic ones. “The priest with the mask of JHVH spake and said…” The Gods are many streams flowing to an unknowable sea. You use the masks to understand the nature of the water, but you cannot understand the ocean by looking at a single river. First you look at the different types of streams, rivers and lakes to give you an idea.
Then, one day, you stop looking at these things and go to the beach. Eventually you swim but only after you have checked for sharks, tides and other hazards. Where I am at the moment is standing on that beach and dipping my toes in. The ocean is a big unknown. I have been lead to it by the Golden Dawn and other esoteric teaching, but it does not have a name or a doctrine, or dogma, it does not require worship and I have an inkling about what it is. When I want to focus it, I use one of the masks, but I am careful not to confuse the mask with the reality.