The Third Order of the Golden Dawn
The Third Order of the Golden Dawn

The Third Order of the Golden Dawn

By G.H. Frater Finem Respice May18, 1911.

This is an article written by Felkin which has sat on my hard drive for a while.  I have no idea were I got it. Hopefully it will prove useful

I have been asked several times lately for some information as to the “Third Order”. I think it will be well to give you all the information I am at liberty to disclose.
It seems to be rather a difficult subject for the comprehension of some people, and yet it is really simple enough.
Let me put it in this way. First I will ask you to put on one side all that we are accustomed to regard as Revealed religion. For the moment we have to consider another tradition.
In our Outer Temple we have as you know the Four Great Archangels, who are said to be the Guardians of the Four Quarters, Raphael in the East, Michael in the South, Gabriel in the West and Auriel in the North. Under the rule of these four are the lesser Orders of Angels, often called by the name of their leader, very much as in the Highlands of Scotland every member of a clan was entitled to bear his Chief’s name. Below these Angels are other lower Orders and so on in gradual descent through Principalities, Dominions, and Powers till at the bottom of the scale, we find our Friends the Elementals. Each of these do in their own rank, under the Divine Ordination, rule the world, and all that therein is.
Aeons ago in the forgotten past, when man was a pure spiritual being in Eden, a group of Spiritual Beings was set apart in High Heaven to watch, direct, develop and instruct the evolution of mankind. For as Earth herself took form out of chaos, and as animal life slowly evolved till a fitting body was prepared for man, so also was the incarnating spirit evolving till it was ready to enter the body.
“Then said I “Lo I come.” And so through the ages did the great teaching hierarchy fulfill the purpose of the Supreme and the Great White Lodge (to give it the term used by modern Theosophists) was formed.
Here we have the origin of the Wisdom, Religions taught to primeval man by signs and symbols, gradually developing into what we now call Occult Wisdom. By slow degrees first one, then another human spirit outstripped his fellows. Here and there a great Teacher or Leader appeared who imparted the Esoteric Wisdom and gradually dispensed it in ever-widening circles. As the human race grew, and as it overran the world, and formed the great divisions of humanity, the group of teachers divided likewise; and so we find that various lines of teaching became differentiated, each being modified in consonance with the particular races and region of the world in which its activities were required, yet all deriving from the same source and fundamentally in agreement. This teaching has lasted even till now and we are in touch with it ourselves.
In each race then one may say, that there were and now are a certain number, who are chosen to keep alive the tradition of esoteric teaching. Remember that a person may have been initiated in one life, and not have progressed very far; in a succeeding life he will probably progress further, and so on till at length he reaches a certain stage of illumination where one of two things happens to him; either his life may be prolonged far beyond the normal duration of earth life; or else he is so advanced that when he dies he is enabled to continue to function on earth.
What we designate as the Third Order is a group of persons who are divided into Grades as we are ourselves.
We may classify them thus roughly as follows:
A. Spirits who have attained the Greater Initiation and who can and do act consciously with those still alive.
B. Very advanced soul who live most secluded lives and do not mix with the world, hermits, anchorites in fact.
C. Advanced souls who are more or less in the world, but who are not usually accessible to letters, telegrams, or telephones.
D. A certain number (I will not specify more clearly) who live ordinary lives and only occasionally retire to meet, and receive instructions from classes B and C.
All four classes A. B. C. and D. can and do keep in touch with each other and communicate on the spirit plane. But it is comparatively rare for the D. Class to communicate directly with the A. Class although the A. Class guides, watches, and instructs the D. class, for the most part during sleep.
Before speaking of our personal relation to any of these four classes of persons, one or two other matters need a passing remark. Although the spiritual rulers of all occult work in the world are at one with each other, yet when we come to investigate the B. Class, we find that there is to some extent still clinging, to them some racial, or it may even be some political bias, one might almost say jealousy. Even now the Eastern Schools are inclined to regard the Western with a degree of this feeling, and it may happen that differences of procedures or policy have an appearance of antagonism to our eyes. This will explain much to those of you who have studied the subject to any extent. Again as the world grows older and knowledge slowly accumulates it is obvious that much which belonged to the Arcana one or two thousand years ago, has now become part of everyday life. To this department of knowledge belongs the use of electricity and the movements of the planets. Therefore every now and then there is a considerable modification of the methods of instruction and procedure.
As we have it in our Rituals and upon the Door of the Vault, “Post Centum Viginti Patebo”. So it has been in every occult Order, and in every nation there is an ebb and flow, a flux and reflux; at times the light burns brightly, at other times it seems almost extinct.
I am now treading on dangerous ground for I fear to be misunderstood but in the Divine Order of the Universal Progress it would not do it there were a very rapid or universal spread of Occult Knowledge. On the contrary only a few are chosen to keep the tradition alive. “Many are called but few are chosen” And Why? Well, we do not desire another Atlantis. It was the too rapid spread of occult knowledge which caused that catastrophe.
When all is said and done, it is the “Little leaven that leavens the whole lump”, and we can only rejoice that we are chosen to pass on, if we prove faithful to our charge, the lamp of occult wisdom; so it is, as it has ever been in the past, that the averse powers are active, and are putting forth all their strength to damage and if possible to quench that light of wisdom which has in recent years begun to spread. History repeats itself. Again and again in the past, Societies such as ours, have flourished and then apparently died away; never in reality, for some few have always escaped the tempest, and have again and again renewed their strength, and youth like the Eagle. The Templars, the Illuminati, the Rosicrucian, the Masons, the Theosophists. All such seekers for truth have had their ups and downs, their great successes and their apparent failures. The Theosophists are even now suffering from a serious split; our own Society has had not a few severe shocks, and buffets of outrageous fortune, even since I joined it nearly twenty years ago. So it must always be, if we do not strive with adverse circumstances we cannot attain.
Before dealing with the question of our own relation with the R.R. et A.C. I want for a moment to refer to why we are here now, why we have been led to join the Society, for if we look at ourselves from an outside point of view I suppose we must agree that we form a somewhat peculiar mixture! We have all had a past. I do not refer merely to the more or less tempestuous careers most of us have had in this life, but rather to the past lives which some of us remember with tolerable distinctness. Nearly all of us have been members of the great Occult Orders in the past, some of us advanced far in them, and then failed in some test; others have simply joined and gone no further, but the mere fact that we are now members of the R.R. et A.C. warrants us in assuming that we have a definite work, however humble, in this world, and that we have had some previous training for such work.
Some of those who have worked with us have fallen by the way; they have had their chance, either they were not yet ready for further progress or perhaps their Karma did not permit them yet to attain the summit. Now assuming this, as I think we have every right to do, it follows that we have each one of us to do our very utmost to make a success of our opportunity. Let us all do what we can to advance in learning, and at the same time to try to reach here, and now, the union with our Higher Genius to which we may attain if we faint not on the way.
In our 5=6 Ritual an outline has been given of the origin of our Branch of this Ancient Order. A Hundred years ago the Order could not be carried on as it is now. Secret Societies were then regarded with great suspicion both socially and politically, and the greatest precautions had to be taken. What took place therefore is as follows:
The R.R. et A.C. had few meetings in what we call the Inner. What we call the Outer is not the R.R. et A.C. at all, it is merely a preparatory school for it, so that if a Member of the Outer asks one of you, as frequently happens, “Am I a Rosicrucian?” you are justified in replying “No”. The Fratres and Sorores of the R.R. et A.C. as we are told in our Ritual, were pledged to find one or more pupils to teach, and they taught then on the lines of our Outer, but even at the present day there are branches of our Order which do not have an “Outer” in the same sense as our, although they have instruction for Neophytes.
After a long time of probation, on Corpus Christi Day or at some other convenient time the Candidates for admission were presented to the council for the Rosicrucian Society and if they passed the test presented to them and were decreed worthy they were admitted in due course, and went on with the practical work.
About the year 1882 one soror, a high Adept in Germany, was possessed with the idea that in free England where Masonry flourished unchecked, open Temple work might be carried out. Our Modern tradition then is that this soror got into touch with a Mason of high degree. I give you the facts as they were given to me by one who has been Chief Adept in Anglia.
This Mason was told that if he could decipher certain M.S.S. he might write to a given address in Germany and further teaching and instructions would be given to him. He was also told that he might associate himself with one or two like-minded brother Masons.
He followed the instructions and two others joined him. Communications were opened up and the Outer Order as you know it was formed. All went well and the society grew. I should however explain, that there was some difference of opinion in Germany as to the advisability of this step for this reason. About 100 years ago a number of Masons in Germany were admitted to the R.R. et A.C. This Branch did not admit women, it still exists and I myself belong to it. It was thought there might be trouble between the two branches in Anglia, but this has not been the case.
It may be well to mention now that the Third Order never was and probably never will be in constant communication with all or even with many members of the 5=6 of the Inner Order. Even in Exoteric Masonry, it takes years to progress to the High Degrees and in an Occult Order this is still more emphatically the case. Moreover, there are other points to consider.
First, long and patient training is necessary before we can get into such astral relations that we can get messages correctly.
Secondly, there are very few of us sufficiently advanced to receive High Grade Teaching.
Third, It is not good for the Adept to come into personal contact with the High-Grade Members of the Third Order, until he or she is sufficiently advanced to benefit from so great an honour.
And last, just as it is as a general rule better for anyone not to be an intimate personal friend of their lawyer, their doctor, or especially of their clergyman, so it is even more desirable to keep one’s occult instruction apart from everyday life. Do what we will we are bound t be critical. The personal equation comes into play. Likes and dislikes are bound to occur and just as, no doubt, you all criticize me, or as the Outers criticize the Inners, so we should be inclined to criticize the personality of the great Adepti if we had the chance. Moreover, it is an important occult fact that a person who stands outside our own sphere can both more justly perceive and more accurately vitalise the symbols on our Aura.
Just suppose for a moment, that we could at any time telephone or write to the Members of the Third Order, What a life they would lead!
No, we have quite enough work to last us for a good number of years, and when we have all got as far as that leads we shall be in a better position to benefit by the still greater knowledge and it may be gain the high privilege of from time to time coming into personal contact with a Mighty Exempt Adept. Until that time comes let us possess our souls in patience, and work steadily, for the more we work the more united we are, the sooner may we hope for that consummation.