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a more substantial astral-role to play: however the precise details of this are confidential, as it is one of the few unpublished teachings.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:
I was born on the east side of town, but the East faced South.
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.