Sam Robertson has posted a rather lengthy article which effectively rubbishes the Golden Dawn’s Rosicrucian credentials.
Sam had I often row about this privately, and he wants my reviews on the posting – so here it is.
Sam’s central problem is defined, and he never gets away from it. He tries to set unfair standards which are unique to his own system and orders. Firstly, he fails to correctly define Golden Dawn in terms of its history. What outsiders call the Golden Dawn was always the outer order of system and only briefly called itself Rosicrucian. The second order of the Golden Dawn is clearly Rosicrucian and brings in the manifestos, the vault, the myth etc.
Sam’s fails to define what the “Golden Dawn system” actually is and makes the grave mistake in assuming that there is a uniform system. In fact, the modern Golden Dawn groups have failed to attain any unity, and while there seems to be a core system, in application each group (or in some cases Temple) is different. Some groups manifestly are more Rosicrucian than others.
Ironically, the same also makes the same mistake defining Rosicrucian based on criteria which basically preclude groups of which he does not have direct involvement. Let’s pull apart his definition of Rosicrucian magic and see how the GD fits in. He said:
Clearly, the Rosicrucian form of magic only has these goals:
- The Reformation of the Whole Wide World.
- The establishment of a Christian Utopia.
- Healing any illness.
- The Philosophers Stone (alchemy)
- Spiritual Reintegration (Cabala)
- Divine Communion (magic)”
Point one. All magic, from the highest to the lowest, reforms the world. That is the point of magic and one of the reasons it was suppressed. If I do love magic “to get my girlfriend back” I am reforming the universe where we are apart. I should point out that the GD does not provide any love rituals, but it does seek to use magic to bring about change which is the key to reforming the whole world. Each successful ritual reforms the entire world – the concept does not require changing the politics just the world.
Point two: The establishment of a Christian Utopia. While this is very important to Sam and his pansophic approach, but they were not vital to the Rosicrucian themes in the manifestos. This is because when they were written Johann Andreae was focusing on a mystical approach to religion. His later ideas of Christian utopias are not really aprt of the central ideas of the Rosicrucian allegory. Yes, they were added by later “Rosicrucians”, but that does not make them necessary. Failure by the GD to meet this standard is a bit like saying the Methodists are not Christians because they don’t accept the supreme authority of the Pope.
Point three: Healing any illness. This cannot be taken literally but in the sense of balancing the whole person so that they can have mystical experiences. The “GD” outer order is focused on healing and magic itself is a healing technique (Native Americans call magic “healing”)
The last points don’t really apply here because even Sam must admit that the “GD” was good at this sort of thing.
After giving a reasonable proxy of the sphere of sensation, Sam makes what I would call a howler saying: “The Astral Light may only fully be received according to the virtue of the operator… But unless you have virtue, truly have developed a Christ consciousness, then this transmission of Light is dampened.”
Sam does not say where he gets this piece of information from, but the attribution of Christian values upon astral light is incorrect. One of the more obvious things about magic is its amorality. (In fact, my current thinking is that light is a chaotic force). The same force can be used to heal or kill a person. The ability of the magician to uphold morality of the magician is never an issue. A good magician can still be a shitty person and (historically) they often were. Another issue is that the sphere of sensation draws similar forces to it, so a person with a symbol placed within their sphere of sensation will draw similar energy towards it.
Sam seems to believe that the Martinists are better magicians than the GD because they used more Rosicrucian ideas. Yet the funny thing is that in Italy, where practical Martinism really is a thing, they are losing members to the Golden Dawn simply because they have lost the plot and replaced practical magic with Catholic dogma. This was my experience with Martinists in the UK too –– it was more about an anal obsession with “purity” and the importance of mystic distractions that doing anything useful. Having seen Martinist ideas in action, they are considerably less Rosicrucian that the “Golden Dawn.” The spirit of Rosicrucianism is about cutting edge change of approach. Martinism is all about having a person of the right degree blessing your candle… in short Martinism is the catholic establishment playing with magic there has never been anything “cutting edge” about it.
Another issue is the importance, or lack thereof, of Alchemy within the GD. Sam is correct, alchemy, while being a part of the GD tradition, has never been that important to it (it is up there with Geomancy and Enochian Chess). But there is a reason for this until the New Age and the Kybalion came long, Alchemy was the biggest blind to contaminate the western esoteric tradition. It is incoherent, lacks a standard symbolic set, and has been used charlatans to make basic esoteric teachings look advanced and incomprehensible. Its most basic level is fine (plant alchemy) anything else is silly and over labouring the point. The GD did plant alchemy (which in my view is all you need to do to get the idea). Every “great alchemist” I have met has had a bridge that they wanted to sell me. The only one I have respected does not believe that alchemy is any good for him and prefers modern science.
The next issue I have with Sam’s piece is his belief that there are “silent” Golden Dawn orders who know what they are doing and “public” GD orders who do not. Without actually being aware of the irony he identifies the “silent” groups ie those run by Tony Fuller, Kasmillos and Olen Rush as the only ones worth bothering about. These are claims which are not made by those three and (because I know them) would not be. There are other Golden Dawn groups out there who do not make a big scene about what the do… some know stuff others don’t. But it is worthwhile pointing out that Sam does not know either. He has not been a member of any of those groups and does not know if they work properly. Being assured by the leadership that their group is working properly is not exactly proof. (I am not saying these groups do not work well btw, just simply Sam cannot be certain and use them as paragons of GD virtue while other groups such as the modern HOGD might also be good) .
“Unlike the Public G.D, the Hidden sections still prefer simplicity. The elaborate ritual processes are broken down into finer phases and done independently.”
The question is “what the fuck does that mean?”
Sam without noting the irony quotes one informant, from New Zealand, from the Hidden G.D shared (in so many words) that when a teacher keeps giving out “advanced teachings” that teacher is destroying the relationship between the fledgling 5=6 adept and the G.D system itself, seeing that now, having reached the Inner Order, you are meant to learn directly from the spirit of the RR et AC.
So here we have some (unnamed) person saying that you should not give out secret information because you contaminate the link between the student and the inner order. This is SECRET TEACHING GIVEN TO AN OUTSIDER and exactly what the “Hidden GD” person is supposed to be speaking against. This is one of the issues I have with the self-imposed gate keepers within the Golden Dawn tradition – they fail to see that rather being an alternative to the modern GD accesses they embody the same hypocrisy and ego dressed up in a garb of tradition. If someone did tell Sam that, then they should be taken outside and shot. They are certainly not worthy guardians of the Whare Ra tradition, just showing off how clever they are to an outsider.
My view is that the Golden Dawn is a Rosicrucian order. It might not be one in the model that Sam wants, but neither do groups like AMORC, Martinism or the hundred flavours of Rosicrucian masonry.
Rosicrucianism is a symbolic allegory of the life and regeneration of the self in a magical framework. There are many others, but the GD does a pretty good job of embracing most of the Rosicrucian ideas.