LGBTQ Tolerance in the Golden Dawn

Eddie Izzard

Got Wand, will do Magick! 🙂

Say what you like about MacGregor Mathers, but on one point he was resolute: he would not brook gossip about Fratres’ and Sorores’ lives – this being a matter purely between themselves and their God.

Mathers may well have had an ulterior motive: i.e. the members who had “questionable” private lives were also the ones who were supporting him during the various schisms. However, Mathers’ firm stand has led to a progressive consequence: the Golden Dawn was the first magical order to adopt a modern approach to tolerance.

However, the Western Mystery Tradition was almost derailed by the efforts of Dion Fortune. Her insistence that magick was based on strict male/female or god/goddess polarity has led in some quarters to a rather dogmatic insistence on heterosexuality which borders on the homophobic. I have read some neo-pagans saying that gays were allowed to join covens, on the grounds that embodying the God did not obligate them to have physical sex with the Goddess. IMHO, this is unsatisfactory, as it means that they would have no option but to channel an aspect of the Divine which is at variance with their natural sexuality.

Nevertheless: it is not possible to become overly attached to gender when it comes to one’s god-forms. I have assumed the forms of both Gods and Goddesses in my time: such is the nature of Golden Dawn magick. I have also come to suspect that one or more of my past-lives were as a different gender to the one I am now. This does not bother me one iota, as I am perfectly comfortable in the gender and sexuality I have at the moment.

By the twin strategies of (a) not interfering with a member’s private life; and (b) not actually practising sexual magick – whether right hand or left hand path, the Golden Dawn is able to accommodate everyone. It is within my knowledge that there have been and probably still are homosexual and transsexual fratres and sorores in the GD. Indeed, at least one individual joined as a “frater” and became a “soror” during her progression and is now a successful adept.

Therefore, let everyone take note: if you know of a man who insists on turning up to temple in women’s clothes and insists on being referred to as “Soror” ceremonies, don’t laugh or mock! Such a person is welcome within the GD, and more – assuming they apply themselves diligently to the Great Work, they would even be eligible for promotion – even to being head of the order!



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10 responses to “LGBTQ Tolerance in the Golden Dawn

  1. Reblogged this on Abhainn – the blog and commented:
    Kinda nice to read something on this from the more ceremonial angle in ritual. The literary student in me wonders about the use of female psychopomps for male characters as I believe Dion Fortune did in Sea Priestess? (Anyone any clues as I only read a few pages in before college work overwhelmed me again)

    • To be fair to DF, she thought she was advancing Feminism in occultism, at a time when feminism was still a radical notion. The homophobic (etc) repercussion I have mainly observed in contemporary practitioners who claim to be inspired by her.

  2. Check out our website, our order has released it’s own landmarks known A’s the “seven pillars of golden dawn” which supports what you say.

    It’s disgusting that you have to put tolerance in print somewhere, but since in many places we are still in the dark ages, so be it!


  3. Peregrin

    woot woot! good stuff, Alex. THANKS 🙂

  4. Pingback: Omnium Gatherum: May 14th, 2014 | The Hermetic Library Blog

  5. Tony Fuller

    Dear Alex,

    I have no doubt that Mathers was entirely genuine in insisting that the Order members had no right to either judge or comment on the private lives of members. As you will know Mathers and Moina were both members of the Cromlech/Sun Order Temple – one of the Order’s instruction papers actually states explicitly that no expression of sexuality in terms of orientation is to be condemned. Every such expression, it notes, is a manifestation of the divine energy. It does add the rider that members of the Order should adhere to the current laws and social mores of the time and place where they live, but also notes that these change over time and in different lands. In my view this was amazingly tolerant and even courageous to take this stand in the late 19th and early 20th century. There is no doubt that Brodie Innes, Felkin, Carnegie Dickson (all senior members) would have accepted this teaching as it was part of the Cromlech obligation to do so.
    The question of LGBT involvement in Grade work became a controversial one in BOTA in the late 1980s. The then Head of the Order used Dion Fortune’s attitude to justify denying initiation to several openly gay men – but he did not expel a few others already in the Grade work; thus adopting a sort of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. He was extremely conservative and it caused him quite a bit of angst. He was not pleased when I expressed the views of Mathers and Cromlech.
    Just as a matter of interest – vis a vis your last comment- I was Hierophant several years ago in a London Order when a transexual in female dress was initiated into the 0=0. I had been alerted beforehand. The ceremony proceeded normally and I was not aware of any untoward reaction from any of the 20 odd members in attendance. Tony

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