When a candidate to the Golden Dawn is obligated, he or she has to swear a terrible oath, the breaking of which entails sinister occult penalties for those who are foresworn. In the Cipher Manuscript the penalties were described simply as:
Death or Palsy
In the original Golden Dawn, this was described more colourfully as:
…the awful penalty of voluntarily submitting myself to a deadly and hostile current of will set in motion by the chiefs of the Order, by which I should fall slain and paralyzed without visible weapon as if slain by the lightning flash.
At Whare Ra this was rendered:
…a deadly Stream of Power, set in action by the Divine Guardians of this Order, Who, Living the light of their Perfect Justice, can, as tradition and experience affirm, strike the breaker of this magical obligation with death or palsy, or overwhelm him with misfortune.
In the Bristol Temple of the Stella Matutina, whence Regardie half-inched the rituals that he published in The Golden Dawn, the corresponding passage is rendered:
…a Stream of Power, set in motion by the Divine Guardians of this Order, Who live in the light of their Perfect Justice, and before Whom my Soul now stands.
So basically we can infer that the penalty was meant to be some pretty heavy-duty magic, like being struck down by a lightning bolt – only the Bristol temple decided to water it down and make it sound like some kind of fluffy-bunny politically correct version.
Now some people with an interest in esoteric Freemasonry – or at least, those people who remain in Freemasonry longer than two minutes so they can appreciate how esoteric it can be – will be aware of the Symbolic Penalties. Furthermore, they may be interested to know if they are not already aware that after you see through all the blood and gore, each Symbolic Penalty relates to a chakra: the first to the Throat; the second to the Heart; the third to the Solar-Plexus. This has further led people like Sebottendorf to speculate that the S…s – which relate to the Symbolic Penalties – indicate the way energy flows in a particular degree.
Now let’s look again at the original Golden Dawn obligation. Whilst the Cipher Manuscript merely talks about death or palsy, the version created by Mathers says: “as if slain by the Lightning Flash.” Oh-ho! The Lightning Flash is also the symbolic arrangement of the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life! So perhaps Mathers too had this instinctive grasp of the relation between the Symbolic Penalty and the Energy Flow. Perhaps the real meaning – i.e. the real nuance that Mathers was trying to convey – was that if a Neophyte did not integrate the lightning flash (i.e. the Tree of Life) in his or her soul, then they would end up being destroyed by it instead. If this be true, and it appears quite reasonable, then we have to thank Mathers and his knowledge of the true value of Freemasonry for getting this point across.
There is however one problem with this whole business of being slain by the Lightning Flash, and that for all the oath-breakers in the original Golden Dawn there is no evidence that any of them ever suffered it. Until now. Some enterprising historian has actually discovered that at least one member of the Golden Dawn was actually struck down from creeping paralysis and was overwhelmed with misfortune after she left the order: Constance Wilde, wife of the famous playwrite. In a story published in the Sunday Express today, it is alleged that Constance Wilde left the order after only a year as a member and revealed such as she had learned to her husband. Everyone is familiar with the calamities that befell Oscar thereafter, but apparently she herself died aged 40, after having suffered from paralysis in her arms and legs.
Crikey! So the deadly stream of power does work after all! Ironic, then, that with all the people who did break their oaths and damaged the order, she was the only to succumb. Even more ironic is the fact that if you read Wilde’s output there is no evidence that he made use of any of Constance’s secrets. Want more irony? The first London production of Salome was put on in 1905 … directed by Florence Farr. 😉