What went wrong with the Whare Ra vault?
What went wrong with the Whare Ra vault?

What went wrong with the Whare Ra vault?

The Whare  Ra vault

The Whare Ra Vault is the last surviving, and certainly the most used vault ever created by a Golden Dawn order.  It was built incredibly solidly with secret panels in the Mars Wall which lead to special smaller rooms for the 6=5 and 7=4.  It was so solidly built that when Whare Ra closed its doors it tried to scrape off the colours and found it too difficult.  Instead they ripped up the carpet and the light from the roof, sealed it up and pretended it was not there.  It was later discovered by the new muggle owners who thought they had bought a house designed by the famous Kiwi architect Chapman Taylor and discovered the secret panel with the vault in it by accident.
One would think that a vault which had been in use for more than 60 years would be buzzing with power and energy.  Most people visiting the room know would be completely underwhelmed.  That is because the last Chief, John Herman von Dadelszen cleared the room, but we will get to that issue later.
The truth of the matter was that the Whare Ra vault had a fairly sinister reputation.  Part of the problem was that it was always wrong and it is not clear why.  The colours were not based on anything that Whare Ra had written down.  Even allowing for paint to lose its colour over the years, the Whare Ra vault was too dark.  Some of the colours which had been selected where muddy and brown, and you would think that someone over 60 years would have done something about it.  But they didn’t.  Also several of the walls were in the wrong place.  I know why, but it appears that Whare Ra went with the idea because it fitted with the concept of vault being at Tiphareth with the hidden 6=5 door to the left and the Jupiter room on the right.  However Whare Ra’s scheme for the Vault do not fit that.

After Mrs Felkin died, standards at Whare Ra dropped and some people started carrying out experiments that she would not have approved of.  According to one elderly Whare Ra member, Barbara Naan told me that the 6=5 room was being used by a group of adepts to carrying out experiments using Mather’s Goetia.  The adepts involved in this circle were not named, but it is clear that they knew enough to get something but not enough to control it.
What happened was never talked about, but suddenly that room was only being used for the 7=4 initiation and nothing else.  To make sure that no one used it easily (7=4 initiations were rare) the chiefs ordered that it be used as a storage with full with old boxes.
Life at Whare Ra went on, but it appeared that there was something rotten in the vault.  Several of the later people who went through the 5=6 started to complain of odd feelings. It is difficult to say if some of those were from the initiation itself or something else.  For example, one person I spoke to who was one of the last few 5=6s told me this:
“After my initiation I stood in the door of the vault with my crook and staff.  There was such a strong feeling that “this is all an abomination” that I had the urge to destroy the enter vault.  I never went back to that vault ever again.”
After Whare Ra was closed the house was offered to members of the Order and then sympathetic associates.   The head of BOTA Will Chesterman told me that he had been offered it and gave buying it serious consideration.
He went up there and looked around, but said that there was something really horrible about the place and he realised that it would “take too much effort to clear.”   That might have been dig at the Whare Ra people.  There was very little love lost between Chesterman and the elders of Whare Ra anyway.  However that was one of the few times I ever heard Chesterman describe something psychically.
Pat and Chris Zalewski’s teacher Jack Taylor told them not to go to the vault because it had been contaminated.  When Chris Zalewski attempted an astral visit she found the astral form of Taylor barring her way.
The old Whare Ra adepts used to meet at the Chivalric Hall and it was there I heard some other interesting stories.  The first was that the first “muggle” owners of the house left because they found it haunted and it was scaring the children who were using the old temple and its vault as playroom.  I was not able to confirm this at all.  However one story was recurring.
Von Dadelszen was a stickler for ritual in the masonic way.  Everything had to be done perfectly right.  A laywer, and Mayor of Havelock North he carried himself with perfect authority and conviction.  The only problem was that he did not realise that the vault had more than one level.  He thought that was the physical vault and then any astral stuff which was contained within it.   To be fair he did do a good banishing, but he did not know how to dissolve the higher levels of the vault.  It was a moot point if he even knew they existed.   What he effectively did, according to Barbara and Percy Wilkinson was push the “inner vault” and all its astral goodness outside the physical structure.   Percy told one of his students that it had been attached to a tree in the garden. 
Several of Jack’s students visited Whare Ra at the invitation of the owners and were walking around the garden where they found a tree stump.  One of the students was incredibly psychic and told me that the energy which came off it was like nothing she had ever felt before.  She was not sure if it was good or bad, but it was certainly powerful and in the wrong place.

The Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea Vault

I know exactly what she means and what it was.  MOAA’s vault is portable and assembled in my living room.  We have to set it up and consecrate it every time.  Shut it down and disassemble it.  The first day after our first 5=6 initiation, I was sitting at the computer and had the feeling was being watch. I saw quite clearly a vortex  about three feet from the ground hovering above the floor exactly where centre of the vault had been.  What I did was shift that energy to the correct level, but I had not realised myself before that I needed to do that.  The Book of the Tomb did not contain instructions for a portable vault.
But it occurred to me that if that was the sort of power that had been generated by one initiation and one consecration, what would be the power of a vault which had operated for nearly 60 years.  Von Dadelszen had pushed that to that tree (which later died) and it remained anchored to the material level. As far as I am aware it is still there, although it would not surprise me if someone had tried to do something about it by now.

I don’t believe that the soul of the vault would have caused much in the way of problems (other than killing the tree) and the connection might even fade with time.  What is in the 6=5 room, may not go so easily… cue spooky music.


  1. None of that is surprising… a northern Hemisphere 19th Century over ritualised pattern grafted onto a southern wild land … you can banish till the cows come home (totally ineffective for powerful land beings), but I bet some very pissed off land beings walked straight through that and threw some rather large tantrums. And it will have been pulling on the land powers there which will be feral at best. Not a bright idea. Total disregard for the land beneath a temple, particularly on such land is begging for a messy end…

  2. Yikes! I have for a long time, wondered at the stories, fiction or true, that I’ve heard about places that were altered by the magic performed in them. Fiction such as Carmacki’s “Whistling Room.” Stories on forums about people who use their garages or who rent out motel rooms for ritual. I stayed once in a room at a motel outside Fort Davis Texas that was so disturbed by some kind of magical act that had taken place there that I had to sleep with the lights and television on as interference so that I could get any sleep at all. Stories traded on forums about such things. Duquette’s story in Low Magick of the school. The story of the places that had been the sites of exorcisms. 60 years of such fabric ripping/alteration, yikes and double yikes. I think there is enough material for such things, and magically-stained places are beyond the pale of haunted or otherwise creepy places.

  3. I too have heard rumours, from a daughter of a Whare Ra adept, similar to your anecdotes, Nick.

    However, I think Josephine has made a very important point and (if this is the Josephine i think it is) one which is all the more important since it comes from someone not of the RR et AC tradition, but who can see things clearly.

    One of the things that is clear with the Vault motif is that it is situated at the centre of the earth, receiving the seven forces. IMO the vault needs to be integrated with the land where it is built. Personally, I think a working alliance with the Land spirits is essential for any Order working with a Vault.

    I have never really seen it as a southern hemisphere issue before though, I only knew we had to and have to do so. And it really makes the whole motif and mystery work and effect many dimensions. Thanks 🙂

  4. Whare Ra did this every well. When Felkin built the temple it was after consultation with the local Maori tribe. The maori had a long tradition of magical training on the hill (which was also TeMata Peak and a sacred site to them). There were two hills in Havelock North, TeMata Peak and another one closer to the sea. TeMata Peak was where the maori shamans were taught “white magic” and the other (now nameless hill) was where black magic was taught. Maori shaman were taught black magic and if they survived they were taught white magic. Mrs Felkin was also fond of working with nature spirits in her garden (she also liked to walk around with a monk’s robe as she communed with the local nature spirits). I think they did all the right things. However when von Dadelszen closed it, he did not. In fact I dont even thing he checked outside to see what had happened.

  5. A person with Whare Ra/ BOTA expertise Tony Fuller wrote in Pat Zalewski’s blog this interesting comment:

    I would have posted this comment on your blog but it seems to always drop off. Your account is most interesting and largely new to me although perhaps this is simply because it never arose in conversation or was unknown to the various Whare Ra people I knew. Jack Taylor told me, as did the Von Dadelszens (whom I knew quite well in their latter years) that Jack had
    dropped out of Whare Ra in the last 11-12 years of its existence to focus on the Order of the Table Round. (Apparently in 1964 John Von Dadelszen found a number of higher and hitherto unknown OTR rituals under a staircase in Whare Ra and gave them to Jack.
    These so excited and motivated Jack, then Head of the OTR, that he confined his activities to the latter).
    Having said this your comment about Will Chesterman did evoke a distant memory and I can confirm it – he and his wife Joyce said a similar thing to me but I must confess that at the time I attributed this to ‘sour grapes’ and the ill feeling which the Chestermans had towards Whare Ra – for many reasons, but not least to the fact that they were once rejected for admittance. Will Chesterman believed that
    the Vault was contaminated by ‘evil Enochia’ and also attributed this to the colouring and 40 square system. Indeed he actually forced the Los Angeles BOTA Vault (which was very old) to be completely repainted with the seven walls each just painted in the single planetary colour.
    Again, I can confirm that Whare Ra was offered to BOTA and the Chestermans to purchase but they rejected it on the grounds it was tainted. Two months after Whare Ra closed in 1978 Will Chesterman built and consecrated a NZ Vault, which was a collapsable one, like you currently use.
    A few other scattered minor points which may be of interest. It was Mrs Felkin who painted the Vault, allegedly on her own. I find this slightly hard to believe but it is stated in two old papers I have. Behind the Vault, or possibly behind to the left or right of the 6=5 and 7=4 rooms (I am not quite sure which) there is another so-called Vault or area which was used for the Da’ath, 8=3 and 9=2 ceremonies. I have the diagrams for these.
    These involve, amongst other things, a rather grim large black Saturnian triangle – I do remember ex Chief Archie Shaw saying that this made him feel distinctly uneasy – I ubsequently mentioned this to Von Dadelszen who dismissed it with a gesture and the comment, “Well, you know Archie…”
    There were very few 5=6 ceremonies in its last years, almost no 6=5 or 7=4 ceremonies, and none for the higher Grades.

    Whatever experiences the family of the Whare Ra building may have had initially they were entirely oblivious to it when I visited twice in the mid 1980s. And similarly for a friend of mine in the late 1980s. On the latter occasion the Temple, Vault and 6=5 and 7=4 rooms were festooned with Christmas decorations hung up by the children. Any bogeymen that may have lurked had certainly evaporated by that point.

    Tony F.

    1. Anonymous

      It is quite a surprise that they simple left their vault (virtually intact) when they sold the dwelling in which it resided. Their various errors in color use et cetera are quite an eye opener as well.

      I found the anecdotes about Will Chesterman, past “Prolocutor General” of B.O.T.A., to be particularly amusing. One phenomenon that I believe we see pop up from time to time (from Golden Dawn groups et al) is the slinging of mud under the pretense of ‘psychic abominations.’ All too often I think that, consciously or not, working groups lower the bar so to speak, in order to raise their numbers or get friends in et cetera. I think one result is that, when key members get lazy, when enthusiasm wanes, or when political games become commonplace or overwhelming, ambiguous accusations are made about psychic disturbances or maladies.

      When Will Chesterman was made Prolocutor General of BOTA (in the 1990s), the ‘nervous new age housewives’ of that Order swooned over him. He was already well into his seventies or eighties at that time. The times I heard him speak, I was surprised to discover how very little substance there appeared to be to his practical or theoretical knowledge. Perhaps there was more to him at one time but, the times that I met and spoke with him he was little more than a doddering old fool. One rather amusing tale he told was that people of Whare Ra Temple had been having dreams about a red haired woman who would come to New Zealand to save them from their strife (or from themselves). When Ann Davies (Paul Case’s successor as Prolocutor General of BOTA) came to NZ, she fit the bill and, according to Chesterman, Ra Whare asked he for help. Allegedly, Davies told them she would help them under the condition that they remove all Enochian material from their work. The story continues that they refused, Davies went home to LA and allegedly, one year to the day thereafter, Whare Ra closed its doors forever. Some of its former members (including Chesterman) joined BOTA.

      The latter GD spin-off has some interesting superstitions of its own. BOTA believes the Enochian system to be a ‘Grade A Carcinogen’ and senior members get quite agitated if the subject is even mentioned. Also, Gay people are barred from ‘Chapters of Working Builders’ because the Second Order members believe that LBGT gender polarity is out of balance and irrevocably damaged. There was a minor scandal over that issue in the Palo Alto area. In 1996 Will Chesterman issued a new (at that time) edict that “members of OTO or other Golden Dawn offshoots” would no longer be allowed to hold “positions of responsibility within BOTA.” I need not point out the ignorance illustrated by their statement’s assertion that OTO might be a GD system.

      I think that it’s always wise to try to learn from other peoples’ mistakes. Ignorance breeds superstition and, I believe that vague allegations about psychic aberrations and ambiguous complaints of ‘odd feelings’ in settings as mentioned above can often be smokescreen by which the ignorant may attempt to manipulate others.

      -Doug Blake


  6. Anonymous

    That is not surprising at all to hear about such thing. People mingle with such energies think they are in control but are not. I beleive and those energies can only be clean by purer energies. Such person capable of doing that much be pure at heart and have reached a level of conciousness that I have not yet seen amound the people of the GD…

  7. Anonymous

    I was in BOTA for several years and I never met an actual occultist in there. Nice old ladies but they knew nothing about magick or occultism.

    Chesterman was worthless as a leader of an occult group.

  8. Anonymous

    I would love to see an actual pious god fearing shaykh go in there and pull an old Islamic excorcism in the name of Allah. I would be interested in the results for sure.

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