Recently, I was reading a post on the Golden Dawn Forum from someone involved in setting up a Golden Dawn group in Massachusetts. They want an unbiased explaination about the differences between the various branches of the Golden Dawn system.
They are not going to get one.
It is impossible to know the differences between the various branches of the system and not have a bias. If you have an association with a branch of the system, you are biased. If you are not affliated with a branch, but can percieve differences between them, you have a bias.
The reason that they want an unbiased opinion is so they can figure out what branch to associate with; they did not state that they wanted an affliation, but I suspect that they feel that they must have a connection to one of the existing branches of the system to be legitimate.
Now everyone who knows me knows my personal bias.
I feel that a group should actually start out without an affliation. Each Golden Dawn group (lodge) is different. Each group has their own working style. Each group has their own way of dealing with the hierarchy and administrative side of things.
And often, when left to their own devices, a group doing the work (working the system) will discover that they are happier not answering to anyone else. Or at the very least, that their opinions of the right way of doing things does not match any existing group.
Charters, Warrents and Affliations (Associations) come with rules. One should know what makes them happy before burdening oneself with a bunch of rules.
That is my opinion.
If a group decides after a couple of years of work that they want to affliate with one of the Big Name Orders, or even one of the smaller ones, then at that point they should feel free to do so. At least then, they will have a benchmark to compare the advantage (if any) of belonging to a Grand Lodge.