Rosie Dawson-Hewes’ charming Arts and Crafts home in sunny Havelock North has a mysterious history.
Tag Archives: Stella Matutina
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.
Just to be clear about this: the proper role of an Imperator in the Golden Dawn is to supervise the Ritual that takes place in the temple. The Z documents issued to Adepti describe the Imperator as akin to a “Director of Ceremonies,” although in practice the role is nothing like that of the DC in e.g. Masonic orders, where the DC is jumping up and about all round the temple. Instead, the Imperator just sits there looking stern (except for the adorations to the Lord of the Universe), and only gets a speaking role during the ceremony of the Equinox.
Some GD orders give the Imperator a more substantial astral-role to play: however the precise details of this are confidential, as it is one of the few unpublished teachings.
Nevertheless: when asked to act as Imperator in a temple recently, I decided to try and take the “Director of Ceremonies” side of the role seriously by doing things like arranging rehearsals, and finding solutions to common difficulties which arise in rituals, one of which I describe below:
What do you do when the room in which you conduct your rituals does not face true East? If one goes by Regardie’s Black Book and nothing else, one invariably ends up fudging the issue if one does not want engage in all sorts of callisthenics when trying to perform ritual in an oddly-shaped temple. HOWEVER: the original GD thought up a solution to this way back in 1888! It’s just that this one of a large number of original teachings which did not make it into Regardie’s opus.
Quite simply: the Temple is set up according to the natural layout of the room. Then, immediately before the formal opening of the ritual, the Hierophant goes round to Compass-East, stretches forth his sceptre, and prays:
Creator of the Universe, Lord of the Visible World, who hast by Thy Supreme Power set limits to its magnitude and conferred special attributes on its boundaries, we invoke Thee to grant that whatever Hidden and Mystic Virtue doth reside in the radiant East – the Dayspring of Light – the origin of Life – may in answer to this our prayer be this day conferred upon the Throne of the Hierophant of this Temple, who is the emblem of the Dawning of that Golden Light which shall illuminate the Path of the Unknown and shall guide us at length to the attainment of the Quintessence, the Stone of the Wise, True Wisdom and Perfect Happiness.
and returns to his throne, which from this point on is taken as the Magical East for the rest of the ceremony.
Incidentally, this prayer is useful not just for a full temple meeting, but also for practising rituals at home.
After the break-up of the original GD, the Stella Matutina continued the use of this same prayer in their own rituals. Mathers, however, wrote a new version for use in the Alpha Et Omega (which Nick Farrell has now published in his book Mathers’ Last Secret):
Hidden forces of the Universe acting through Matter unto whom have been assigned according to your nature the Cardinal Divisions of Space. Invoke ye by the All Powerful Name of your Creation to seal in just orientation the Inner Limits of this Temple. Let the Throne of the Hierophant mark the radiant East, though its direction accord not therewith, and let the South, West and North send their secret currents towards the points established in their correspondence by our Rites.
Today I am going to do a survey of the grade of 6=5 Adeptus Major, by examining how the various different offshoots of the Golden Dawn – the Alpha et Omega, the Stella Matutina, the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross – decided to deal with the subject. The one thing they all have in common is that they agree the grade has to do with Geburah – in the same way that 5=6 Adeptus Minor is to do with Tiphereth – but there the similarities end. Each different faction went off in their own direction, having different ideas about what the Adeptus Major was actually meant to do.
As far as I am aware, none of the published Adeptus Major rituals are used by modern day Golden Dawn orders – they have gone on to use different or modified versions.
Alpha Et Omega
The Alpha et Omega 6=5 so-called Ritual has now been published: as an appendix to Tabatha Cicero’s new publication, “Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers.” I say so-called because the version published is not a real ritual. It does not have an opening or closing, nor does it have any drama in it. It consists of one chief officer, the “Conferring Adept,” teaching the signs and words of the grade to the Aspirant, who is prompted throughout the ceremony by a conductor. The explanation of the Tarot cards is brief. If anything, it is more of a fragment of a ritual – perhaps part of something that remains unpublished, or a work-in-progress.
The only interesting thing, IMHO, is that the brief explanation of the nature of the signs gives a tantalising glimpse into what Mathers might have imagined the work of an Adeptus Major to be – i.e. the use of Geburah-force to subdue evil entities – although no detail is given about the Adeptus Major curriculum itself. It is also interesting in that the symbolism anticipated the ideas the Crowley expressed about the nature of the Adeptus Major grade in the latter’s John St John.
Now the Adeptus Major ritual of the Stella Matutina is a far more interesting affair. An incomplete version of the ritual was published by Pat Zalewski in his book Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn: fortunately though, I have seen a copy dating from a Stella Matutina temple circa 1916, so I have been able to compare. Now this is a proper ritual. It has drama, it has beautiful ritualistic speeches, but most importantly it introduces in the course of the ritual several key qabalistic concepts which provide much food for thought. The ritual should be read in conjunction with the account of W B Yeats’ own experience of this ceremony, which is printed in George Mills Harper’s Yeats’ Golden Dawn, which gives details of the astral work that went on invisibly as the ceremony took place.
This ritual lays much emphasis on the Shekinah – the divine presence of God – who is here portrayed by a female officer. Why the Shekinah? I believe the answer must lie in the fact that in Gematria, “Geburah” is equivalent to “Debir,” which is the Holy of Holies, where the Shekinah was said to reside upon the Ark of the Covenant between the wings of the two kerubs. The aspirant is therefore the High Priest, who goes into the Holy of Holies (actually the Vault of the Adepti which has been re-dressed for the occasion) and after a period of meditation discovers the Shekinah, who first comes to him (or her) like a light-bearer in darkness.
An interesting feature is that the Aspirant remains completely silent throughout the ceremony, until formally released at its climax. It is worth noting that quite separately Wynn Westcott did indeed describe the Adeptus Major grade as:
“…a degree of death and solemnity—referring to the precedent stage of obscuration, during which silent study and meditation may be considered as the typical condition…”
One is tempted to speculate that in this respect the Stella Matutina ceremony is probably more to what Westcott intended than that of the AO! Unlike the AO ceremony, which is nothing but signs and an explanation thereof, the Stella Matutina 6=5 mentions two signs (“thou shalt avert thy eyes from evil as did Isis on the right … thou shalt withdraw from evil as did Nephthys on the left,”) but does not really demonstrate what they are: obviously part of the esotery that was only transmitted from person to person.
The lacuna in Zalewski’s ritual amounts to three-fifths of the oath being omitted (the oath of an Adeptus Major is in five parts), as well as an instruction that the Aspirant is censed in the form of a Pentagram, before being led out temporarily before the next point in the ceremony. When read in full, the oath of the Adeptus Major reveals that the duty of the new initiate is to apply the severity of Geburah to his or her own moral nature, whilst emphatically being merciful to the faults of others.
I found one mistake when I first read Zalewski’s version, however: when I checked, I found that the mistake had been in the original ritual! Namely: the wrong passages of the Sepher Yetzirah are quoted when the aspirant is given the teachings of the Paths of Mem and Lamed.
A sort of curriculum has emerged as to what the Stella Matutina envisioned for the Adeptus Major grade. Although on first reading it does not seem much, from my own personal researches I believe that additional papers were also issued to the adepts which suggested ways in which the Adeptus Major practices could be extended to achieve extremely sophisticated results. In any event, the lines “try to find your own Path for the Inner Life,” and “now is the time to fill in gaps of the 5=6 syllabus and to choose your special subject in which to qualify,” conceal more than they reveal: I get the impression that Felkin, the author of the Stella Matutina 6=5 ritual, believed that if the Adeptus Minor grade was equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in Magic, then the Adeptus Major was equivalent to a Master’s.
Holy Order of the Golden Dawn / Fellowship of the Rosy Cross
The Holy Order of the Golden Dawn Adeptus Major Ritual has now been published in Regardie’s Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic. It catches Waite as he was beginning to embrace mysticism, yet had not completely thrown off all of the trappings of the original GD. Now here is a curious thing: despite superficial differences, much of the underlying structure of the first Waite ritual is identical to that of the Stella Matutina version. E.g. the aspirant remains in silence until released in the final part of the ceremony, he or she goes into the Vault for a period of meditation, before encountering the Shekinah, who leads the aspirant out. Intriguingly, Waite identifies the Shekinah as Nuit, and the newly advanced aspirant as Horus. Could this in fact mean that Waite was a secret Thelemite (extremely ironic given the caning he received from Crowley in the Equinox)? Or perhaps when Crowley received the Book of the Law, the Gods were telling him not to become the prophet of a new aeon, but that he was now ready to become an Adeptus Major?
After the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn closed, Waite founded the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. The grades are named after those of the Golden Dawn – but Waite finally took the opportunity to abandon the last vestiges GD dogma of which he disapproved and finally do his own thing. Nevertheless, the FRC Adeptus Major ritual still displays certain similarities to the version he wrote for the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn. There is a sojourn within the sanctuary, the Shekinah makes an appearance – but the insistence of silence is strictly removed. Needless to say, any references to Horus and Nuit have been removed.
As far as I know, there was no curriculum per se for the FRC grades – I believe that Waite intended the ceremony itself to be both the initiation into and the teaching of a given grade. In this sense the FRC is rather like a masonic version of Rosicrucianism. I did hear one senior esotericist say that this being the case, an initiate could theoretically be advanced through each grade at successive meetings, or slightly less than a year if they met every month, although I doubt very much that this would happen in practice.
This blog post was first published in August 2010. Recently it has been brought to my attention that some of its contents need updating! See below for details.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is of course probably the most influential occult society of all time. Recently [i.e. July 2010] a book has appeared on Amazon entitled The Golden Dawn: Unpublished Lectures of the Hermetic Order of the AO. This has sparked some controversy on message boards across the interwebby thing along the lines of “It’s a fake,” “Oh no it’s not,” “Oh yes it is,” etc ect tec.
This got me thinking: where can a scholar go to find the original Golden Dawn manuscripts him- (or her-) self? So for example one does not have to rely on books of dodgy provenance? For this reason I present the following. Note that I do not claim that accessing any of the following is easy – this is probably why the original manuscripts of the GD remain not so widely known.
Contains: The Yorke Collection
This archive is famous for containing Aleister Crowley’s papers, most of which have now found their way into print – either with or without the OTO’s approval. For a Thelemic magician this would be interesting enough. However two points should be noted: amongst Crowley’s own papers are documents which he himself got from the Golden Dawn, and from Allen Bennet, when he was a member.
Secondly, the Yorke Collection also contains Golden Dawn material that would never have come into Crowley’s possession. This includes material from the AO on the Tarot, and most interestingly a number of rituals of the “Cromlech Temple” (otherwise known as the Holy Order of the Sun) which to my knowledge have not seen the light of day, proverbially speaking.
The rest of the Golden Dawn material seems to be a complete set of documents of just about everything that was published by Regardie, as well as the Flying Rolls which were later published by Francis King.
Entrance to the Warburg Institute is free so long as you are a student or member of staff of a recognised University and are engaged in a relevant course of study – documentary evidence of this will be required. So hoi polloi cannot just turn up and discover the Sun Order’s Ritual of Initiation of Fire for instance by claiming to be a “student of the mysteries,” I think they might be wise to that one.
[2018 update: Since I first wrote this, the Warburg Institute has completely redesigned its website, so that it is now quite atrocious for trying to look up what is and what isn’t in the Yorke Collection. If they have not been alienating property from the collection, they are certainly doing so to researchers! Grrr.]
Contains: The Carr P Collins Collection
Carr P Collins Jr (born 1918) was highly interested in druidism, wicca and magick and was allegedly the source of the documents which Regardie used for The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic. Maddeningly however his collection is not fully inventorised – at least not on the web.
The Bridwell Library may be used by students and staff of Southern Methodist University: otherwise it is necessary to become an associate member which costs $50 per annum. As far as I am aware you have to be in situ to make use of the facilities, so if anyone is in Dallas kindly let me know what goodies are there!
Contains: Occult Papers of W B Yeats
Of all the members of the Golden Dawn, Nobel laureate W B Yeats achieved the most in public life, so it was kind of inevitable that the Republic of Ireland would want to preserve his papers for the world. Fortunately for the Golden Dawn scholar, Yeats was an Adeptus Exemptus of the Stella Matutina – so his archives in the National Library of Ireland contain manuscripts from the original order of the GD, the “Morgan Rothe” which was the London faction’s name when the order split in 1900, and the latter Stella Matutina all the way up to 7=4. It also contains Yeats’ GD notes and a lot more besides.
Two documents from the higher grades of the Stella Matutina are particularly interesting. One is a detailed analysis of the Adeptus Major 6=5 ceremony, which describes the inner astral workings of the ritual: this has been published by George Mills Harper in Yeats’ Golden Dawn. The other is the 7=4 ritual itself, whose full title is “The Mystical Grade of 7º = 4 Being the Grade of the ROD Which Blossoms. ” NB A version of the 7=4 ritual was published by Pat Zalewski in which it was called the “rose which blossoms.” However, assuming the Yeats version is the correct one, this would imply that the 7=4 is themed about the story of Aaron’s Rod, which when it blossomed confimed Aaron’s authority as High Priest.
Sometime last year photos were made available on Flickr of a small sample of the kind of things which are in the Yeats collection. A goodly sample is can also be viewed online in the Virtual Yeats Exhibition.
Most excitingly the Library indicates that it may make copies of items in the collection which are in good condition, also the price of actually doing so is enough to dissuade most indigent occultists.
I personally know of the location of several other original GD documents although scholarly access to them is limited for one reason or another. For example, the Library and Museum of Freemasonry at Great Queen Street has a cache of material belonging to Wynn Westcott: unfortunately it is still in the process of being catalogued so it won’t be available for public inspection until sometime in the (hopefully near) future.
[2018 update: however, a lot more work has been done since 2010 – see: The Library & Museum of Freemasonry > Explore > Search The Collections.]
There are also organisations to which members of the GD also belonged, which have material from the GD locked in their cupboards for safekeeping: however just how much is hidden away I cannot say. I was privileged enough to have a brief glimpse inside one such archive and found a single ritual dating from 1916, and nothing else from the GD (the ritual itself is one that has already been published).
Doubtless there are other archives about the place, not to mention the collections of private individuals (e.g. Bob Gilbert), so I shall probably post a follow up to this post once I have tracked them down.
[2018 update: the preceding comment should be re-read in the light of my subsequent blog-post, Golden Dawn Exhibition, 19th December 2013]