One of the things I occasionally ponder is what type of people should be in Golden Dawn and the Orders based on its material.
I am not sure if there is a legitimate answer to this question, or rather a universal answer to it. Each of the Orders that I have experience with had their own answer to the question. In fact, I believe that everyone you ask will give a different answer.
For instance, what is an acceptable reason for joining Golden Dawn? Most would say that one should have a desire to further one’s spiritual development. And most incoming members seem to think that is the only acceptable answer.
If you believe that the only acceptable answer is spiritual development, then you will probably believe that I shouldn’t be a member. Spiritual development was the farthest thing from my mind when I joined the Order; it has remained a low priority for me, though I must admit some spiritual growth has occurred despite my lack of interest in it. I joined Golden Dawn because of the material covered; I was already studying the material--why not do it inside the Order. There was also the issue that I like magic, the little known science of using the human mind to access dimensions that are normally inaccessible to us. To say that I have issues with power would be putting it mildly. In my defense, I remind you that I am the oldest of eight kids, and grew up really poor--a lack of an education and resources has made me a deep reservoir of self-interest. And if magic allows me an edge that I would not otherwise have, so mote it be. For many people, this attitude should bar me from the company of upright souls; the members of the lodge that brought me into the system had no problem with my reaching for power--a fact that would cause many people to say that particular lodge was not really a Golden Dawn lodge.
People are welcome to their opinion. People’s views of Golden Dawn are varied; and there is a Golden Dawn based Order that fits whatever views one chooses to have.
If you think that Inner Order Golden Dawn members should be paladins of virtue and self-sacrifice, there exists an Order for you. If you think that Golden Dawn should be strictly for Christians, then there is an Order for you. If you believe that Jews and Wiccans should be allowed into Golden Dawn, then there is an Order for you. If you like to be told what to do, allowing someone else to control your life, then there is an Order for you. If you are the independent type that wants to chart your own course, then there is an Order for you. If you believe that Thelema should be taught in Golden Dawn, then there is an Order for you.
No matter what you believe Golden Dawn is about, there is an Order that fulfills those conditions, (or at least, claims to fulfill them). This is why it is so hard to decide who should or should not be in Golden Dawn, or for that matter, which group represents what Golden Dawn is really about.
In many ways, it is like the differences of opinion that exist about the real purpose of Freemasonry. There are some who consider Freemasonry nothing more than a social club and networking organization; there are others who consider Freemasonry to be a school of esoteric symbolism. Either camp can find evidence of their case in one or another Freemasonry lodge.
The same holds true for Golden Dawn. My advice to people interested in Golden Dawn is to shop around. I would also suggest being patient; some of the best Golden Dawn groups are small and extremely hard to find. Just because a Golden Dawn based Order is visible and easy to find, and claims to be legitimate (and sometimes the only true Golden Dawn), doesn’t make it so. It also does not mean that it is the best group for your needs. Do not be afraid to take some time (maybe even years) to find the perfect Golden Dawn group for you. After all, you probably would not want to join a Golden Dawn group that would be willing to have me as a member, now would you?