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).
The Irregulars. Not as authentic as The Midnight Gospel
Source: Alex Sumner’s answer to How and where could I start to practice Magick? (14 years old) – Quora
When Magic Works, edited by Mike Crowson
This is a story of a number of people who are now Adepts, each discovering evidence of the paranormal for the first time, and from that, extrapolating a belief in the reality of Magic. It is a story of the trials and tribulations which initiates go through when progressing through the grades of the outer order. It is a record of the nitty gritty of what is really involved in summoning ones inner resources to put into a Portal thesis, when one attempts to practice Clairvoyance, of astonishing oneself when one succeeds in consecrating a talisman and making it work. It is in short a portrait of everyday life as a member of a magical order, with the qualification that – viewed by an outsider – nothing in this book is in fact “everyday.”
My favourite parts of the book are a guided meditation for Rising on the Planes, intended to demonstrate the work of a typical inner-order member, and which can be utilised as a practical exercise for oneself. Furthermore, there is a curious mention of what happened when a number of initiates used their powers of astral projection to form a side-project of people dealing with occult forces gone bad. I must confess here that I have spoken to the editor who has privately informed me that he deliberately held back on publishing the details of some of the more terrifying incidents in which this group got involved, which is a shame as from the sound of it their exploits would provide inspiration for a score of decent horror movies!
When Magic Works: The Inner Experiences of the Adepts of the UK Temples of the Golden Dawn 2003 – 2018. Edited by Mike Crowson. ISBN 978-1716408069. Available on Amazon and other book stores now.
(A2A) The answer to this has changed over the course of history.
In every Tarot deck inspired by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – including, most importantly, the Rider Waite Deck – Tarot Key 11 is “Justice.” However in every other deck, including every deck devised before the Golden Dawn, Tarot Key 11 is “Strength.”
Confusingly, the Crowley Thoth deck, which undoubtedly is GD-inspired in part, has its equivalent of “Strength,” i.e. “Lust” as number 11, and the counterpart of “Justice,” i.e. “Adjustment” as Key 8. This is not, as some believe, because Crowley was using his ipsissimus super-powers to change the order of these two trumps, he was simply keeping the numbering found in ancient tarot decks.
VIII Adjustment, in the Crowley Thoth Deck. Numbered 8, but nevertheless attributed to Lamed and Libra all the same.
The reason there is any confusion at all is that the GD came up with the idea that if Keys 8 and 11 were Strength and Justice respectively, they would correspond to Leo and Libra, and if you put the Fool at the head of the Tarot Trumps, the whole sequence would qabalistically map onto the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Hence the innovation was made by the GD in making Justice number 11: Crowley just changed the numbering back – although he did retain the astrological signification.
Source: Alex Sumner’s answer to What tarot card is number 11? – Quora
An Ankh, once belonging to Reginald Gardner, who was one of the founding chiefs of Whare Ra.
To Treadwells last Monday for an evening entitled “Golden Dawn: Hidden History,” featuring a talk by GD expert Dr Tony Fuller. The small meeting room was packed (the event was sold out). I noticed a large number of dodgy characters from the London occult scene (i.e. people I knew!) lurking in the audience, as well as representatives of at least two or three different Golden Dawn orders dressed in mufti.
Tony, 73, had been planning to do a slide-show but opted instead to just talk from notes. He revealed that he himself had been introduced to the occult as a twelve year old boy reading Dennis Wheatley’s “The Devil Rides Out,” and following up references to real-occult works mentioned in the otherwise fictional novel. At the time he did not know that the Hermes Temple of the Stella Matutina was active (though on its last legs) in Bristol, England, whilst elsewhere in his native New Zealand was Whare Ra Temple, in Havelock North.
Whare Ra, he said, was a temple which in its heyday had approximately three hundred members. Havelock North, the town in which it was situated, only had a population of about a thousand. In other words, almost a half of the adult population of Havelock North were members of Whare Ra! That this was possible is due to the fact that the town had been a hotbed of spiritual activity for some time before the Stella Matutina ever arrived there – the “Havelock Work” was founded in 1908, mainly by people who themselves went on to play prominent roles in the Whare Ra temple.
Tony pointed out that the prominence of symbolism of the Divine Feminine in the Golden Dawn – for example, the way in which both Isis and Nephthys feature as god-forms in the temple of the Neophyte, with Hathor standing guard in the far East – as well as the feminine figures in the Tarot keys which make up the paths of the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life. The fact that there was such a feminist trend in the GD he attributed to the influence of Anna Kingsford on its original founders.
Amongst other items of information I gleaned:
- Tony acquired an amount of Alpha et Omega material from a former member who had travelled to New Zealand to get her grades in the Stella Matutina at Whare Ra. Amongst this cache was the only known copy of Mathers’ 6=5 ritual, as well as the long-lost corpus of Theoricus Adeptus Minor papers (nb: these have now seen the light of day in Sandra Tabatha Cicero’s The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers.
- Tony showed us an Ankh (pictured above), at least a hundred years old, once belonging to Reginald Gardner, one of the first chiefs of Whare Ra. The example above is approximately 28cm tall (I photographed it against a sheet of A4 paper to give an example of its scale). Curiously, the only teaching regarding the Ankh was reserved to one of the Third Order grades (in the Stella Matutina the grades went all the way up to 9=2) – Tony described this as in a certain way the “key” to Golden Dawn magic.
- Although Mathers had written detailed analyses of the Neophyte and Zelator rituals (the Z papers, and the ZZ papers, now published in Pat Zalewski’s Inner Order Teachings of the Golden Dawn), to the best of Tony’s knowledge, no equivalent analyses were ever written about any of the higher grades, such as Theoricus, Practicus, Philosophus, etc. As to why this was, Tony believed that it was because there was no need – once an Adept was high enough to be in a position to be concerned about such things, he or she ought to be able to work out the details for him/herself.
I shall be making a public appearance at a day of talks in central London, on Sunday 11th August 2019, where I shall be presenting a piece entitled “Diary of a Ceremonial Magic Operation.” For more details, please follow this link:
Golden Dawn Open Day 2019
Golden Dawn Magic: A Complete Guide to the High Magical Arts
The new book by Chic & Tabatha Cicero, “Golden Dawn Magic: A Complete Guide to the High Magical Arts,” is an introduction to the practices of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn: its unique selling point is that it goes into slightly more depth than other such introductory guides. So for example, it does not simply describe the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, or the Middle Pillar Ritual, but outlines preliminary exercises of which a practioner could make use in order to get used to those rituals beforehand.
Moreover, advanced techniques such as god-form assumption, tarot divination, etc are mentioned, and the results are combined to show a Golden Dawn magician would formulate a complete “Z2” Magic of Light Ritual.
It is probably most helpful to think of this as a companion volume to the Ciceros’ “The Essential Golden Dawn,” the difference being that the former book outlines the theory, whilst the latter the practice. Nevertheless, it is at the end of the day only an introduction, and as such the authors continually refer to their other publications as shedding more light on the subject, for example: Self Initiation into the Golden Dawn; Tarot Talismans; as well as Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn itself.
You now have the ability to celebrate the Summer Solstice with an anthology of Golden Dawn articles… including one written by yours truly! “The Light Extended” is a new Golden Dawn journal put together by “Frater Yechidah,” who asked me to contribute an article to it. From the blurb on Amazon:
Taking its name from the rituals of the Order of the Golden Dawn, this journal aims to extend the light through information, offering a combination of unpublished original order documents and new material from prominent voices in the esoteric world today. With a unique mix of scholarly articles and practical advice, this book provides an essential resource for those interested in the Golden Dawn system of magic.
Topics include the Qlippoth, Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, the Lord of the Universe, a Stella Matutina Ritual for Influencing a Person for Good, the Body of Light, the 42 Assessors, Hekas Hekas Este Bebeloi, Skrying, Thelema’s relationship with the Golden Dawn, the Assumption of Godforms, a Fire Tablet Ritual, and the Enochian letters.
With contributions from: Chic Cicero and S. Tabatha Cicero, Samuel Scarborough, Frater YShY, Tony Fuller, Jayne Gibson, Adam P. Forrest, Soror DPF, Alex Sumner, Frater D, M. Isidora Forrest, Darcy Küntz, and Frater Yechidah.
This book is officially published on June 21st 2019, but is available for pre-order now. Click Here to go to the Amazon page!
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was a magical order founded in 1888. Its teachings focussed on the Qabalah, Hermeticism, astrology, tarot, alchemy – albeit through the lens of Theosophy. In its higher grades (the “inner order”) members passed from the theoretical to the practical and practiced ceremonial magic.
Notable members included S L MacGregor Mathers, Aleister Crowley, W B Yeats, Dion Fortune, A E Waite, Paul Foster Case, as well as a whole host of others.
“The Golden Dawn,” by Israel Regardie
In 1934, Israel Regardie went public with the teachings of The Golden Dawn, although many of them had been published previously by Crowley.
The original order broke up and stopped operating under the name of “Golden Dawn” in the early twentieth century, but there are nowadays modern revivals of the Golden Dawn, operating in England, America, and elsewhere.
Source: Alex Sumner’s answer to Occult: What is the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn? – Quora