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The Death of the AO lineage

In my book King over the Water I describe the end of the AO Lineage. I thought the source of the information obvious as it had been publically available for many years.  Apparently not…. 
The only real records we have for this period are from the pens of Dion Fortune and Ithell Colquhoun.
Fortune was sent by her mentor Maya Trenshall-Hayes from the London temple run by John Brodie-Innes to join Mina’s temple.  Things did not go well and Fortune was removed before she reached the Second Order.  She did not provide much in the way of details.
To that we have to turn to Ithell Colquhoun who was the cousin of one of the last chiefs Edward John Garston.   According to Sword of Wisdom Page 19 she was introduced to a Mrs Weir and her daughter who were the chiefs of the Order along with her Cousin (Mina had died by then).
On Page 5 Ithell Colquhoun’s introduction to Edward John Garston’s Rosi Crucian Secrets she identified Weir as Mrs Margaret Boyd who had helped Mina Mathers establish the AO Lodge of the Golden Dawn when the latter moved from Paris.   The address 26 Elm Park Road in Chelsea was also where the London AO temple met.
26 Elm Park Road
The last full time home of the AO
This helps us identify the people in her Sword of Wisdombook. Garston had wanted to marry Boyd’s daughter Isme who was another chief, however she was interested in a stockbroker.  The Order at this point seemed to be members of Boyd’s extended family with Isme, and her cousin.
Colquhoun was famously turned down by Boyd for membership of the AO after being astrally examined, she later wrote that she should have applied again but did not know that you were automatically rejected on your first application.
She spoke to Garstin again in 1939 and he told her (p27 of Sword of Wisdom) that the temple had dispersed and the Secret Chiefs had ordered that everything was to be destroyed.
Later in the book (Page 46) she gives more details. 
Colquhoun has proved reliable when she is describing events that she knows about or has experienced.  She is completely unreliable when she starts to speculate.  It is then she goes off talking rubbish about Druid vaults and Samual Mathers giving lineages to people he did not know.
However  was probably not the complete end of the AO. This is because John Brodie-Innes continued to run a slightly schismatic branch of the Order and when he died he appointed Carnegie Dickson to carry it on.  It was not a big force on the occult scene after the war and in the end took what was left of the AO lineage back into Stella Matutina. When he died his wife took over.
Hermes only had less than 12 people by 1956 and one of the chiefs Charles Renn, had to take his 7=4 in New Zealand under Whare Ra.  When they appeared in NZ they were so impressed Whare Ra building, and with the relatively strong Order in New Zealand, they decided to emigrate permanently and joined that Order. Mrs Carnegie Dickson died in 1968 and any connections had long since passed to New Zealand.
Thus it would appear that any claims at legitimately reviving the AO lineage hits the same problem that those who claim official links from the Stella Matutina.  It is impossible to claim descent from Mather’s London temple because that had closed, Mina’s temple, though legitimate, was formally closed by by its secret chiefs (so that is a dead end too).  To claim Whare Ra lineage you have to have been given the link by someone entitled to do so. There are a few people who have that standing.  But the AO link would only be possible if it was given to you by Charles Renn.  The only AO link from Renn I know of is claimed by Tony Fuller. 
But the Renn lineage is equally problematic. To accept it you have to accept that Mina Mathers was not the rightful spiritual heir to her husband’s order and that honour legitimately fell to John Brodie-Innes.  Not only that, you have to believe that Carnegie Dickson had the right to disobey the secret chiefs instructing the AO and carry on, even after Mrs Boyd told them to close.
In my view this lineage is a little tenuous, even if is at least considerably stronger than others that have been claimed.  It might be that the reason Hermes had such difficulty with those higher grades was that the spiritual force behind the AO had really gone up in the bonfire of Isme garden, just as the Secret Chiefs had requested.   

8 thoughts on “The Death of the AO lineage

  1. Forgive me if you will,

    But i don’t quite understand as to why people care so much about lineages and such.

    Is magic simply not about understanding the universe? why would one delve so deep into the tit for tat beginnings of long gone orders when it has evolved so much further since then? Is this itself not part of the inner weeding out process for unsuitable people?

    Forgive me if i am incorrect, but i don’t see how this helps humanitys progression into the future.

  2. It completely does not matter. A magician is defined by their magic and what they have to teach. The issue is that there are some groups which try to claim superiority over others on the basis of a made up lineage. The point of this is that very few people can claim to have a legit lineage to the GD… but alll GD groups have to show what they can do. Those who make the most claims about their history generally have a problem with their present.

  3. I recall that Brodie–Innes was named as Mathers’ successor as head of the AO in the Ahathoor minute book, but the three ruling chiefs were B-I, Mina and Berridge. There was nothing ‘schismatic’ in AO terms about it. I think Berridge died shortly after and B-I in 1923, B-I naming Carnegie Dickson as his successor. Mina died in 1928, removing the last significant player in the original GD from the AO. Felkin had also died, in 1926, but Carnegie Dickson was still close to Yeats (as his physician) and other senior members of the Stella Matutina. Perhaps the passing of the “old guard” enabled a bit more flexibility in the association of members of the AO and SM, and I wonder if Carnegie Dickson had nominated Tranchell Hayes et al to run the remaining AO temple enabling him to maintain the entire GD community in the UK within his purview. Tranchell Hayes seems to have resumed working with Dion Fortune by the early 1940s, according to Gareth Knight, but I don’t know whether this was before or after the closure of her AO temple. Alan Richardson has also found her correspondence with Aleister Crowley – and her letters to him begin “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law…”
    I think the full picture has still to emerge.

  4. That is true…. but Mina thought otherwise and BI never openly engaged her on it. DF thought that Mina was in charge of the order. In any event Berridge and BI did die fairly soon after Mina arrived and their Isis London temple closed. Tranchell Hayes disappeared from the scene until she showed up on Dion Fortune’s doorstep to channel the arthurian workings, but it does not seem likely she was working GD at that time. We dont know exactly when she buried her equipment but it is also unlikely that she was not a member of Mina’s temple. DF did not mention it. In fact what appears to happen was Moya sent DF to Mina to keep an eye on Mrs Mathers in the rival temple. Mina saw through the spying effort and that was the reason why DF had so many problems with her. Mina’s temple was always small and after her death was tiny. DF did write to crowley and they did swap notes. The do what you wilt thing was probably politeness (or even irony) on DFs part. She did admire some of Crowley’s stuff but most of her work seems to see him as the archetypal black magician.

  5. Sorry Nick, I think there are too many assumptions here. “Mina thought otherwise…” might be the impression you have gained, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but so far as I can see it’s unsupported by evidence. Also, DF joined the AO in 1919 and it’s unlikely that Tranchell Hayes was by that time operating a rival temple, it’s more likely she inherited after Mina’s death the rump of the London AO, so I don’t think there’s any basis for the “spying” conjecture. DF had left the AO by 1922, and all we have are her personal recollections of a comparatively brief association with the group and not a comprehensive account of its structure and operation.
    Sorry, should have made clear it was Tranchell Hayes’ correspondence with Crowley, not DF’s. See Richardson’s “Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune”, pp. 51-2.

  6. Are you saying that there is evidence that Mina saw herself as subordinate to BI (or any mortal :-))? The will named BI as successor was publised a while after Mathers’ death and smelt a bit of being a negotiated settlement which was written after the event. My guess was that neither wanted a fight over who was leading the order, it only became an issue much later.
    What you are saying about the AO in London is pretty much what we used to think by reading King etc (where you have this London 1,2,3 temple thing) In fact the sequence was pretty clear…. BI took over the London Isis Temple which he ran with Berridge and Hayes. DF joined that one but transferred (for some reason) when Mina arrived and set up her new temple with Margaret Boyd. It is my theory that DF was sent as a spy by Hayes and this explains most of the problems Mina had with her. (if you look at some of the charges that Mina made against DF they can be linked to sending messages to Hayes.) Otherwise it is not clear why DF went to Mina at all. Mina’s temple was small and had the same problems that BIs did. DF’s mentor Hayes was with BI and DF admired BI enough for him to be a major influence on her for Dr Taverner. The two temples operated side by side until the death of Berridge and BI. I don’t think Hayes carried on running an AO temple after that as that was the end of the “scottish branch” and Mina would not have had her anyway. Mina’s temple chugged along after her death being run by Garston and Hughes. It can never have been big but did have three chiefs. It shut in 1930 according to Garston. So there was no rump to inherit.
    I have not read Richardson but he once told me about the correspondence DF had with the Beast which went along similar lines. He did not say when the writing took place — I wonder if it was part of the final DF and Hayes workings when they were keen to get more information on polarity as part of the arthurian workings.

  7. Hi

    I must say I am shocked, thoroughly shocked that Desmond Bourke’s name is not included in this blog. He is cited as a AO 7=4 from the early 1930’s when he was only a young teenager. Since there was nothing during the war or post war my hat is off to him. Studying for 8th grade and being an AO inner order member did pose its problems.



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