Sunday, March 16, 2014

How Matherites rewrite Golden Dawn history

Good luck with your attempt to turn Mathers into a Saint. 
The best way to start this post is to perhaps to state upfront that I actually admire the work that Samuel Liddell Mathers did, especially the work he did alongside with William Wynn Westcott. I view the duo of Mathers and Westcott much like I view the duo of Dee and Kelley, two men who helped create a system bigger and more grand than they were. And much like Dee and Kelley, I feel that they were better operating as a duo than separate individuals. Also like Dee and Kelley, I do not think that Mathers and Westcott had the slightest clue of how vast and complicated the system that they helped birth really was. And just like Dee and Kelley, I do not believe that Mathers' word and instruction about the system he helped create is the last and final word.

Then again, I do not believe that a final word is possible about the Golden Dawn system of initiations and instructions--at least, as long as the system remains a living system. I do not think that Westcott, Waite, Regardie, Crowley, the Ciceros, or anyone else understood/understands the system so completely that their word has to be taken as absolute gospel and the only correct way to work the system.

Yet over the years, I have encountered dozens of people who have held up Mathers as the final word of how the system is supposed to be worked, right down to the level of accepted behavior that a leader has to meet. These people brush the more ugly aspects of Mathers' behavior and the troubling aspects of Golden Dawn history that make the man look all too human under a rug. Often it is because they consider themselves the spiritual successor to Mathers' Golden Dawn, right down to even creating a fake charter.

Seriously, I have encountered someone who created a fake charter from the man, not just a simple lineage and historical claim to be the man's successor. It was a rather sad and pitiful attempt to look like more important than they really were. I was not impressed, having a decent knowledge of art techniques that are designed to mimic the works of the masters. Being a happy little cynic probably also helped.

So what are some of the changes that the Matherites like to make to Golden Dawn history? And what is actually closer to the truth?

Mathers was popular and welcome in many different Orders. Actually, no, he was not. In fact, Mathers was barred from joining several groups, due to the intense dislike that some had of his character. In terms of memberships in multiple Orders, Westcott was far more active than Mathers.

Mathers was learned in many languages. Only partially true. Again, Westcott was the better of Mathers.

Mathers was a military man. Only if being a private makes you a military man. Or if translating a book from French does.

Mathers was hard working and reliable. Seriously? At least, one person who hired him to do translation would have argued differently, as well as all the people he borrowed money from and never repaid.

Mathers was really of Scottish noblity. Based solely on Mathers' claims, of course...of which there is no actual historical evidence to back the claim that he was "Comte MacGregor do Glenstrae."

Mathers was a ritual writing genius responsible for what Golden Dawn is. No, no, no. The Cipher Manuscript was written by someone else, probably Kenneth MacKenzie. The Outer Order rituals were mainly fleshed out by Westcott, a fact that Mathers never denied. The Portal ritual, originally part of the 5=6 ritual is a mess magically from an initiation analysis point of view. And large parts of the 5=6 ritual were actually lifted from the original RC manifestos (a point that can be proved by highlighting everything found in the Adept Minor ritual that also is found in the original RC manifestos).

(There is also a rumor that the whole Vault of the Adepts, color scheme and all, was lifted from another group--but in all fairness, I have not seen proof of this claim.)

Mathers was completely ignorant of the Westcott creation of the Sprengel letters during the opening days of Golden Dawn. Seriously, if Mathers was ignorant that Westcott was creating a set of letters and stories to boost the reputation of the Order, then he must have also believed that the Order was hundreds of years old. Often Mathers and Westcott was taking action before they recieved the "official approval" though the Sprengel letters--was Mathers really so dense that he did not notice this?!

Mathers moved to Paris to be in contact with the Secret Chiefs. Actually, he moved to Paris to accompany his wife, Moina, who supposed to go to art school there. Then, after moving to Paris, he claimed to have made contact with the Secret Chiefs and to recieve the Second Order material.

There was a logical reason for him to believe that Madame Horos was really a 5=6 member of the Golden Dawn. If there is one, no source has ever revealed it. And the excuse that he had been cut off from contact with the Secret Chiefs does not cut it either. Quite simply, why didn't he test the woman and her companions on the very basics of the Golden Dawn security procedures and rituals? Surely, the Horos did not fake the passwords, Grade signs, and knowledge of the rituals of the Grades they claimed to have...because if they did, they would had no need to steal documents and rituals from Mathers.

Mathers meet with physical Secret Chiefs. Actually, while Mathers claimed that he believed that he believed that the Secret Chiefs were living on Earth, he said that he only saw them in astral form--"the rendezvous was made astrally by them..." In other words, he never shook hands with a Secret Chief...which would be the ultimate proof that they were flesh and blood beings, so we only have his stated belief that they were physical beings.

The promotion of Crowley and/or actions of the SRIA were the real reasons for the schism against Mathers. No, the problems within the Order, the harbringer of the schism, started to show up as early as 1892, several years before the entry of Crowley into Outer Order, not alone into the Inner Order. And the actual schism in 1900, preceeded Mathers' removal from the SRIA by two years (Mathers was removed from the ranks of the SRIA for inactivity).

(For the record, given Mathers disregard for the wishes of the London Adepti, including his refusal to help make repairs to the Vault of the Adepts, I would have voted against him. His behavior alone, regardless of whether or not he was in contact with Third Order, was enough to cause a significant amount of the membership to rebel against him. The real reason for the schism is simply that people don't always get along with one another, especially if some of the people involved are arrogant ass-holes who believe that people are plotting against them.)

Mathers was cut from contact from the Secret Chiefs for the third and final time in 1906 when the Secret Chiefs realized the mess that he made of their teachings when Aliester Crowley published the Golden Dawn material. There are a few problems with this idea. The system, if guided by the Secret Chiefs, was always "hands-off"--one can hardly blame the worker if the supervisor is never on the job site. The Cipher Manuscript was fleshed out without any input by the Secret Chiefs--hence the entire Outer Order could be wrong. Secondly, it took Crowley publishing for the Secret Chiefs to realize that Mathers was cocking the system up? What they never asked Mathers any questions about how he understood the material?! Thirdly, Mathers AO was not even using the same set of Z-documents and rituals as the ones that Crowley published--or at least, not doing the rituals as if the Z-documents had any actual bearing on the effectiveness of the system.

And Mathers was in contact with a group of physical Secret Chiefs at the time of the Mathers/Crowley court case. And if the Secret Chiefs were physical beings, why did they not at least send a letter to Mathers to show the judge? Crowley got sent several charters and letters to undermine Mathers' claims to be the sole RC representative, why did Mathers not get any from the people most concerned with his claims. It is one thing for them not to show up in court, but why no letters?!

(In fact, why no letters at all from the Secret Chiefs beyond the Sprengel letters? A single physical letter would have proven that they were physical beings living on Earth...yet not a single letter exists to prove that they knew where Mathers lived. And for that matter, why did no one in the Order outside of Mathers and his wife ever met them? Surely, the Secret Chiefs knew where the lodges were located at, and could have proven that they had more right to be there than anyone else did.)

Mathers fully understood the system, and should be considered the final voice in how Golden Dawn and its Inner Order should work, including the acceptable behavior of an occult leader. No, Mathers did not fully understand the system. For one thing, he had not experienced the rituals from the viewpoint of the initiate--there are experiences that only initiates have (things that initiates use to see if someone has done more than just read the GD rituals in a book). Two, he ignored stuff from the very documents and lessons that he wrote (following the Z-documents make it impossible to do the short-cuts to the rituals that he allowed, not alone actually allow people to claim Grades simply by swearing the oath of the Grade and paying an advancement fee--aka rituals done without the person being present, something that shows up in the log books of his own lodge). As for his behavior being acceptable as a leader, tell me again how it is ok to piss off the membership to the point that they rebel against you.

Mathers was selective about who he let into the Order. If Crowley is not proof enourgh that Mathers quality control was lax, how about the Horos? Is there any evidence at all that Mathers ever rejected a single applicant who had the money to pay the dues and fees?

There is at least one lineage today that traces back to Mathers and is authorized. No, none at all. No one was authorized by Mathers to take over the Order after his death. Not even Moina Mathers had authority to run the Order after he died. And by 1940s, every lodge of Mathers' AO had closed its doors.

Of course, let's be honest, none of the facts will ever prevent people from trying to turn Mathers into a Saint or prevent them from claiming that they are his one and only true spiritual successor. And in fact, one can probably put good money on the fact that this little blog post will be called complete and utter lies by at least one Matherite...but then again, me and Matherites never get along with one another, so what else is new?

4 comments:

Sincerus Renatus... said...

Dear Morgan,

From a purely scholarly level it would be nice if you could back upp your claims with some sources (ether primary or secondary) for the following:

1. Mathers was barred from joining several groups, due to the intense dislike that some had of his character.

2. At least, one person who hired him to do translation would have argued differently, as well as all the people he borrowed money from and never repaid.

3. The Outer Order rituals were mainly fleshed out by Westcott, a fact that Mathers never denied.

4. AFTER moving to Paris, he claimed to have made contact with the Secret Chiefs and to recieve the Second Order material.

5. The problems within the Order, the harbringer of the schism, started to show up as early as 1892.

6. Mathers was removed from the ranks of the SRIA for inactivity.

7. Mathers refused to help make repairs to the Vault of the Adepts.

8. Mathers allowed people to claim Grades simply by swearing the oath of the Grade and paying an advancement fee--aka rituals done without the person being present, something that shows up in the log books of his own lodge.

9. No one was authorized by Mathers to take over the Order after his death. Not even Moina Mathers had authority to run the Order after he died.

BTW, this is not a "Matherite" attack on you; simply a wish to have primary or secondary sources for these historical claims.

Thank's in advance,

S:.R:.

Nick Farrell said...

number nine is an interesting... we only have mina mathers word that she was supposed to succeed and Brodie Innes was supposed to be the Deputy Archon. That statement came out a year or so after Mathers death. There was no signed statement from Mathers saying an of it.
A scenerio might have been that it took a year of squabbling between Mina and BI to sort out who was going to lead what. The fact that they both remained largely independent suggests more of a truce than following Mathers orders.

Morgan Eckstein said...

SR--Quite honestly, my notes are a shambles. About six years ago, I caught onto the fact that parts of the Golden Dawn community would burn any historian at the stake that dared to write a history book that disagreed with their version of events...therefore, I was never going to write a GD history book, and did not need to include detailed source information in my notes. After that realization, I just quit noting where various bits of information came from because there was no point in doing so.

Basically, the tactic is to argue that the oral tradition says something completely different, therefore the data is wrong--as in even the primary documents are lying. It is one thing to question how a historian reads the documents--it is something completely different to say that the primary documents themselves are false and should be completely ignored.

Therefore, if I ever pursue a career as a historian, I will never write about Golden Dawn. It is not worth my time. And therefore, it was not worth my time to keep proper notes.

And the hostility of this particular GD population is so severe, it would not surprise me if they went out of their way to destroy primary documents that proven that their version of GD history was false.

Basically, it is simply not worth my time to pursue the matter, considering nothing that I could cite would be acceptable by them.

Sorry for not being able to help in a quick manner. I might follow up on some of these points later with actual dates and cites...number five I think would be the first one that I would do a follow up post on.

Nick Farrell said...

1. Society of Eight (Holland thought his Scotish pretensions annoying) oddly his name appeared on a suggested roll of members on pencils but since the list was written when Mathers was out of the country and the society had long closed it is unlikely. Holland blackballed him from groups he was involved in (one of the reasons Holland was not in the GD). The same applies of Yarker who reported that "Mathers was extremely badly spoken of" when mentioning the Golden Dawn in 1910. GD conference 1996
2. Mathers was late with Abramerlin and had to be threatened by his publisher Garner (Howe) Crowley was mucked around so much he took the manuscript back he fleshed it out and published it himself. (Crowley) Mathers was notorious for doing things slowly. It was not that he could nto do things quickly (when he was interested) it was just that he was easily distracted. It took him a good while to get the Tham papers done for the GD for example. When he was interested he could go quite fast.
3. No mathers did flesh out the outer order rituals but Westcott had the final say on them. I know the quote Morgan is referring to here and it s not right.
4, Mathers had astral contact with LeT before Paris (Howe). He did claim that he went to Paris for further teaching and this was to cover for the fact that Mina had be paid for by Horneman to and he was following her. (from memory that was Howe)
5. THe fights were starting to take place soon after the creation of the second order Howe is full of scraps.
6. That is GD scrapbook.
7. Not heard that one he refused to attend the meeting becuase of his Synarch politics meetings in London and that was what set Horneman off.
8. He did that to set up the US temples.
9. Again we only have Mina's word for it that was what he said. THis was in a letter issued after haggling with Brodie-Inness for nearly a year. (look at the letter and the date of it)