Saturday, March 22, 2008


One of the things that every student of Golden Dawn needs to be aware of is the assumptions that themselves and other students (especially lodge and Order officers) have about the Golden Dawn system. These assumptions are constantly in the background, and they color the opinions of those who hold them.

What are some of the assumptions that I hold?

Grades represent a level of learning in the system. And while they are associated with a sephirah and certain spiritual states, they are NOT the sephirah and states of consciousness themselves. The Grade is a Gateway to those states, but just because someone has the Grade does not mean that they permanmently dwell in that mental state.

The baseline of Golden Dawn is the Outer Order material, that the entire system is built from the bottom up. There are some that say that the further development of the Golden Dawn system depends upon knowing what the Third Order teachings are--I disagree. It would be an awful poor mystery tradition if all you had to do to kill it was kill off the superior Grades in the chain.

I believe that the history of Golden Dawn is both simplier and more complicated than people can imagine. My basic view of Golden Dawn history is that Kenneth MacKenzie cobbled together the Cipher Manuscript for a group that never used it, and that Westcott and company created a myth to match it after it came into their possession.

Therefore actual contact with Third Order is impossible. Third Order, if it arises, will come from a further development of the Golden Dawn system. Any group that claims to be Third Order is involved in a plot to control Golden Dawn.

As one can guess these assumptions color my opinions about Golden Dawn. To convince me otherwise, one has to cough up actual evidence.

One of the most important assumptions that one can make about Golden Dawn is about the nature of initiation. Considering initiation is the backbone of the system, having a clear idea of what initiation is and is not is important. What is it supposed to accomplish? To put it simply, initiation's purpose is to bring you in contact with certain energetic sources that are tapped though symbols; the energy flow that results is used to develop spiritually and magically.

Personally, I believe that Temple Initiation is best. I firmly believe that one should belong to a community of scholars and mages. Failing the option, second choice is Self-Initiation. I consider Astral Initiation to be a compromise between the first two options.

My beliefs about the hierarchy annoy many people. I believe in electing officers. Many believe that one must have a place in the hierarchy to hold an office, and that it is true to a certain extent. But a member of the hierarchy does NOT have to hold an office to influence the system and the world.

I believe that Golden Dawn is NOT a religion. I believe that members of any religion can join the system, though I will admit that certain religions have a harder time in the esoteric Orders than others.

And most impotantly, I believe that I am allowed to change my mind about the assumptions that I have today. I am allowed to learn. Others are allowed to convince me that their assumptions are more correct. So if you think that I am in error, you might be right and I might agree with you tommorrow.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Generic system of magic--part two

Another problem with generic magic in a Golden Dawn context is quite often the core of the system ends up being something that is not actually Golden Dawn.

The purpose of Golden Dawn is varied; but the working techniques are pretty much the same from Order to Order. In groups that take the generic approach this is not always true.

For instance, I know of one Order that basic working technique is "spirit guides." Golden Dawn traditionally has nothing against spirit guides (ignoring the political and PR statements concerning Theosophy), but it is not something that Neophytes are encouraged to dabble in.

In this spirit guide system, contact with the spirit guides is considered the crux of the system, with all the other techniques being optional. It should be the other way around in my opinion.

To understand the problem with the idea of making contact with one's spirit guide and ignoring the rest of the system, just think about this: How do you know that it is actually your spirit guide and not a demon (qlippoth)?

There is nothing wrong with making contact with your spirit guide; there is a problem if you have no way of testing and defending yourself against possible hostile entities.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Oath of secrecy

(Readers may want to note that this is in response to a yahoo group posting about an unfavorable Enochian Chess book review I did a couple of months ago. Those who are interested in my reaction as a book reviewer can read the entry on my writing blog. Under normal conditions, I wouldn't care to give this more time, but there was a point about secrecy that I think needs addressing.)

Today, the notorous Steve Nichols posted a comment on a couple of Yahoo groups about a recent unfavorable book review of his first Enochian Chess book. I am fairly sure that it was written by me; if not, I still feel some guilt about the one that I wrote. Nevertheless, he made one comment that I want to address.

(Actually two comments, but the response to the one {about his attempt to divorce Enochian Chess from Golden Dawn} can be summed up as "Prove that Enochian Chess was not a Golden Dawn invention.")

(Anyways...) Nichols said that "Polytheists such as myself, or Wiccans, or even atheists, cannot in all seriousness take any GD vows and oaths that are required. Personally, I think Oaths to be a bad thing on the whole, as they restrict freedom of the ba, and may not be appropriate to you at a later time when conditions in your life (or beliefs) might have changed from the time you made the Oath. Also the internecine politics of belonging to one or other of the modern GD factions can often make practitioners lose sight of the Work."

Say what?

Outside of the atheists (who I can not imagine being in Golden Dawn considering that they believe in no higher power, souls, or magic), the others can take the oath. Wiccans and polytheists have taken the oath to the Order, or tradition; I know because I have administered it to several. In fact, I am a polytheist and a Wiccan and I have taken the oath of obligation (I was already one when I swore my oath in Hathoor Temple, and they had no problem with administering the Neophyte, Portal, and Adept Minor oaths to me).

Those who view the oath of obligation as too restricting are the same people who view Satan in Paradise Lost (John Milton) as a hero, rather than the nasty envious toad that he is. (Not that I believe in Satan, but after spending half a semester reading it in literature class, I am going to get at least one reference out of it.)

The oath does not restrict you to remain in Golden Dawn for the rest of your life; if you want to leave, just quit paying your dues and quit practicing.

(As for the internecine politics, I agree with Nichols that it is terribly distracting. But you can study and practice the system without getting involved in that nonsense, so it is not proof enourgh to abolish the entire system.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Golden Dawn!

One hundred and twenty years ago on March 1st, the Order of the Golden Dawn was formed. So happy birthday Golden Dawn!

While there are some who claim that the system is older, my opinion is that the Isis-Urania lodge was actually the first lodge. Perhaps someday, I will change my mind about that, but it would take some really good evidence to convince me otherwise.

What impresses me is that the Golden Dawn is still around. In the last century, countless number of Orders have faded away, dying off, and disappeared. Yet Golden Dawn may even survive for another hundred years unlike some of our fellow esoteric and fraternal Orders.

For instance, depending upon who you ask, Freemasonry is expected to become extinct within the next fifty years, or twenty-five, or ten (as I said it depends on who you ask).

Given the fact that Golden Dawn started out small (the original group only had three hundred members) and other Orders have disappeared, why is Golden Dawn still around?

I think it has to do with the fact that first Israel Regardie, then later writers like Pat Zalewski, wrote about the system. Even writers like Steve Nichols and myself have helped keep the system in the public's eye. And if the Order does disappear, which did happen once already, there is enough material to reconstruct the system.

Anyway, happy birthday Golden Dawn! And many happy returns.