The first organisation to be called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn opened in 1888 as an initiatory society dedicated to the study and practice of Ritual Magic, the Qabalah, Hermeticism, Astrology, Tarot and Alchemy. It was founded by people who wanted to have something like Theosophy, but rooted in the Western Mystery Tradition.
The original order ceased operating under that name in 1903, but continued in various forms until the late sixties or seventies.
However, in the late seventies / early eighties there was a move to revive the Golden Dawn, mainly thanks to the influence of Israel Regardie, and temples originating from that period still exist to this day.Alex Sumner’s answer to What is the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn? Does it still exist? – Quora
Tag Archives: Golden Dawn
This ritual horrified the noted Golden Dawn historian R A Gilbert who, according to anecdotal evidence, condemned it as being
“ disturbing in character.” It involves the evocation and binding of evil spirits (“ Creatures of the Flashing Fire, And Rushing Air… Dwellers in the Howling Wilderness ” etc) as well as the invocation of the good.
Having gone through this text myself and come to an entirely different conclusion, I must assume that Gilbert had taken offence not at the ritual itself, but at a Phantom which he had conjured up from his imagination. As it were. Ahem !
You now have the opportunity to read a never before published original ritual of the Golden Dawn – as well as other great scholarly contributions on the GD – in the new edition of “The Light Extended: A Golden Dawn Journal,” edited by Frater Yechidah for Kerubim Press.
I myself have edited and transcribed the piece entitled “Ritual for the formation, building and consecration of a body wherein to travel, manifest and act in freedom from the bounds and limitations of matter,” a ceremony composed by an Adept of the original order circa 1898 – 1900. In my article, I argue that this represents a practical attempt to make use of magical formulae restricted to Practicus Adeptus Minor – and is hence more advanced than the greater part of original Inner Order material previously available. Previously this existed only in the archives of the Library & Museum of Freemasonry in Great Queen Street London: it is here being made available to the wider international Golden Dawn community for the first time.
“The Light Extended” is now available in paperback from Amazon and all good booksellers. To get your copy, please the links below. Thanks!
I stared at the broken fragments in despair: what could have caused my precious Chalice to shatter? I felt particularly galled since it had accompanied me for at least twenty-five years in one form or another. I had to face the unfortunate fact: if I wanted to continue practising ceremonial magick, I would need a new Water Cup
I immediately decided that in order to do this properly, I would have to cut no corners and consecrate a new Cup in the traditional manner, using the ritual for the consecration of elemental weapons in full form. An unexpected benefit of doing so arose in the form of being able to appreciate this ritual with the benefit of many more years experience. In other words, when an Adeptus Minor first consecrates his tools, it will be not long after he has attained that grade, and hence, presumably, still rather naïve. Whereas I was coming back to it with the benefit of what I had learnt since.
Nowhere was this more obvious than in the realisation that when consecrating the Tools, the new 5=6 is expected to use Enochian magick, the full details of which he is only expected to learn after he has finished consecrating the same Tools!
The actual ceremony is pretty straightforward in structure. There is a general opening: following which there is a three-part invocation for each of the Tools – Wand, Cup, Dagger and Pentacle. The first part is a Qabalistic invocation of the element in general, by appealing to the Hebrew Divine, Angelic and Elemental names most of which are contained in the outer order knowledge lectures.
The second part is Enochian: the Adept is imbuing or linking the Tool with the properties of the specific parts of the Enochian Watchtowers. Firstly: the three secret names of God born upon the Banners of that respective quadrant, as well as the King. The three names (from the Linea Spiritus Sancti) command the spirits of the Tablet in general, whilst the King, whose name spirals around the centre, creates the Invoking Whorl which rouses those spirits to action in the first place. Secondly, the Six Seniors, who represent the planetary energies at work in that Element. Thirdly, the spirits of the individual lesser angles who are each represented by the primary Kerub associated therewith.
When one makes this invocation, one is facing the relevant Enochian Watchtower over the altar on which the Elemental tool is currently resting. Despite the fact that no Enochian calls were being used at this point, I could still sense the presence of the link being made between the Watchtower and the Altar / tool – and the presence of these Enochian beings – simply by calling upon them confidently.
The third part of the invocation is to take the Elemental Tool on its “maiden voyage” as it were, by performing a Supreme Invoking Pentagram Ritual of that particular element whilst using it. This I interpreted as a regular Supreme Invoking Pentagram ritual, but with the addition of an extra Elemental Pentagram to invoke the relevant Lesser Angle of each Watchtower.
After all the tools are consecrated, there is a general closing, with the lesser banishing rituals. As on this occasion I had only consecrated one Tool, I performed an extra Supreme Banishing Ritual Pentagram of that particular Element, before wrapping it in silk – and placing it in a box to make sure it would not suffer the same result as its predecessor.
As for my new Water Cup, the hardest part was carefully drawing out all the sigils that I would need to paint on the thing – and use in the ceremony when making the Qabalistic invocation.
Once I had done that, painting the Cup itself was quite straightforward: I used a small tin of orange enamel paint, purchased from an art supply shop; and a tumbler made of blue glass which I had picked up from a charity shop. Total cost of materials approximately £5, and a couple hours of my time. I also printed out the consecration ceremony, making sure that I had figured out the correct pronunciation of the Enochian names involves, so I would not have to resort to guesswork or stumble over a bunch of eldritch consonants in the critical moment.
In conclusion, I cannot help but think of the various arguments for and against whether it is possible to self-initiate into the Golden Dawn tradition. To my mind, the path of the Adeptus Minor itself starts off as a regular initiation, followed by a series of Self-Initiation Rituals in all but name: i.e. when one consecrates ones own lotus wand, rose cross lamen, magic sword, and elemental tools, one is deliberately taking one’s spiritual destiny into one’s own hands.
What I have to say might sound so shocking that sheer cognitive dissonance will cause many readers to react by crying aloud and saying “No! It can’t be so!” Or: “Surely Alex you must be mistaken?” It is a small detail from Enochian Magick, but important enough to derail one’s entire appreciation of the system if one were to overlook it. It is this:
Everyone who has being doing Enochian Magick relying solely on Aleister Crowley’s texts has been doing it wrong.
Why? Because there is a fundamental mistake in published versions of Liber Chanokh.
The attribution of the Elements to the individual squares of each of the lesser angles has great importance in determining the astrological, tarot, geomantic and qabalistic attributions thereof, as well as each ruling godform. Ultimately, it will affect the vision that one will have if one were to attempt to scry into each square.
The Golden Dawn’s rationale for assigning the elements was stated by Israel Regardie thus:
“Referring to the other squares of the lesser angles, in the Kerubic Rank the outside square is always attributed to the letter corresponding to Element of the Lesser Angle. In the Tablets of Air and Water, the Name read right to left in the upper two quarters; in the two lower quarters it reads from left to right. In the Tablets of Earth and Fire, left to right in the upper, but in the two lower quarters right to left.“
Regardie, The Golden Dawn (Emphasis added)
To summarise, the directions would look like this:
Whilst the Elements of the columns would be arranged thus:
However: what appears to have happened is that in published copies of Liber Chanokh, and in versions of the Tablets derived therefrom, the elements appear to have been arranged thus:
Spot the difference? This makes it clearer – note the third row, which corresponds to the upper portions (Air and Water lesser Angles) of the Earth and Fire Tablets.
What appears to have happened is that Crowley (or his illustrator) appears to have interpreted the directions like this:
What is Crowley’s explanation for him ordering the elements in this way? Whilst Regardie set out his rationale in the quote I reproduced above, Crowley however says:
“3. Kerubic Squares.
The upper sides pertain to the element of the Tablet, the lower sides to the subelement. Right- and left-hand sides in this case correspond, according to a somewhat complex rule which it is unnecessary to give here. …
4. Lesser Squares.
The upper side of each pyramid is governed by the Kerub standing on the file above it. The lower side is governed by the Kerub also, but in order descending as the are from right to left above.”Crowley, Liber Chanokh
“Unnecessary to give here” ! If only it had been given, Crowley’s readers would have found the discrepancy without assistance! If one refuses to believe that Crowley could possibly have made a mistake – perhaps because the aforesaid cognitive dissonance is too much to bear – then the only other conclusion one can draw is that Thelema uses a different version of the Enochian Watchtowers to the Golden Dawn. It is certainly a mistake to think that one can use both the Golden Dawn and Thelemic versions interchangeably.
In which I give an interview for Magic Tool Box UK on their YouTube channel on the Golden Dawn.
In which I talk to Jacqueline Wilson of Magic Tool Box UK about all things Abramelin. You actually get to see what I look like in real life in this video, so those of a nervous disposition may want to look away now.
Why the secret symbols of magic and witchcraft fascinate us – BBC CultureWhy the secret symbols of magic and witchcraft fascinate us – BBC Culture
You are now able to get hold of the new edition of “The Light Extended: A Journal of the Golden Dawn (Volume 3).” This features my own article, “Self Isolation in the Golden Dawn Tradition,” as well as other contributions from Tony Fuller, Adam P Forrest, Samuel Scarborough, and more.
This is currently available in paperback from Amazon in the USA, but is also available in the UK as well on import. To get your copy, click one of the links below now!
Coming soon: the third volume of “The Light Extended, a Golden Dawn Journal” will soon be published and features an article by myself entitled Self-Isolation in the Golden Dawn Tradition. It is essentially a memoir about how to run a working GD temple during a time of global pandemic.
The same volume also contains contributions from Tony Fuller, Samuel Scarborough, Jayne Gibson, Adam Forrest, Frater Yechidah, and others. It is published by Kerubim Press: more details as I get them.
I am now an experienced Ceremonial Magician. However, when I was fourteen years old myself, I got turned on to the occult not through reading occult books per se, but through Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, and the fiction of H P Lovecraft.
This is not so crazy as it may sound, since because Call of Cthulhu is based in a fictionalised version of the real world, the creators actually included a lot of historical data of real-life occult organisations and personalities such as Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Israel Regardie, the Golden Dawn, etc. Because this piqued my interest, I remembered them when I came to researching the occult seriously when I was older.
Indeed, several serious occultists I know claimed that they were first inspired to take up the dark arts after reading Dennis Wheatley novels. Dennis Wheatley actually met Aleister Crowley, although he was a bit of a hypocrite in that he told his readers not to get into the occult real-life, as it was a sure path to be enmeshed by the powers of darkness, etc.
So yeah, if you do your research, you will probably find that a lot of fiction is inspired by genuine occultism. A lot however is not. The one thing I would advise against doing is watching The Irregulars. This is probably one of the worst programmes out there when it comes to historical accuracy about occultism. Or about the Sherlock Holmes universe. Or indeed about life in Victorian England generally.
(NB: if you are on Netflix and you want to watch something decent about the occult, try The Midnight Gospel instead).