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Golden Dawn Exhibition, 19th December 2013

The Minutum Mundum

To London yesterday, where I assumed human form and attended a strictly-invite only exhibition of artefacts from the original Golden Dawn, dating right from the founding of the Isis-Urania temple and even before.

The place: the Grand Officers’ Robing Room at the United Grand Lodge of England, Great Queen Street. The exhibition was a selection of materials kept in the archives of the Library & Museum of Freemasonry. Although this material has been available for inspection for some time – as I first reported in the post Golden Dawn Manuscripts and Where To Find Them – this was the first time that an actual exhibition had been organised of them. This was quite an event to see so much on display in one place all at once, as usually one can only view each individual piece one at a time. That this came about was mainly thanks to a series of negotiations between Susan Snell, the head archivist, and one of my contacts in the “Illuminati.”

Hegemon and Hierophant wand. They appear to have been made from bannisters!

One of four tablets on display yesterday, each depicting the symbolism of one of the elements (in this instance, Earth).

There was room for fifty people (all seats were taken). As I surveyed the attendees I noted that there were large contingents from two supposedly rival GD orders! I say “supposedly” but this did not stop us going down the pub together later that evening. The actual exhibition was preceded by a talk about the Golden Dawn collections: however it was purely given from a scholarly and archival point of view. That is to say, the speakers were completely expert about how researchers would be able to use the collections to conduct further research into the GD, although they knew nothing of the magic of the GD itself. In that respect, those experts were  in the audience listening to them.

The GD material at Great Queen Street has provenance from two main sources. Firstly, there was a collection which was acquired in 1920: secondly, there was another large collection acquired from a private source in 2008. The staff didn’t actually say who this private source was, although given that a lot of the items on display previously featured prominently in Bob Gilbert’s The Golden Dawn Scrapbook: The Rise and Fall of a Magical Order, it doesn’t take the world’s greatest magician to have a guess.

None of the material was secret per se, as it has all been written about extensively before. However, it was a great pleasure to appreciate the exquisite draughtsmanship and care which the original members of the GD had taken in creating their bits and pieces.

My favourite exhibit was the complete membership roll of the Isis-Urania Temple. It literally was a gigantic (A0) roll, with the name and motto of each member who had passed through its doors, right up until the last initiate who entered in 1910 (the temple was closed two years later). It was great fun picking out the names of all the famous people of whom I had heard. I noticed that a large number of names had been struck through with a line. Some people standing nearby were wondering why those particular names were struck through so I took a closer look and realised: they were the names of all the people who had sided with Mathers at the time of the 1900 schism. Except for Aleister Crowley – whose name was crossed out three times.

"Now that's just being petty."

“Now that’s just being petty.”


NB: All photographs (except the Crowley snap) are taken from the Library & Museum of Freemasonry’s website and are © copyright the Library & Museum of Freemasonry.

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The Order of Great Osiris The Saviour: Part 2

In my previous post on the subject, I had to take down the accompanying photos at the request of the Library & Museum on Freemasonry. However, the nice people at the library have now allowed me to put up new photos – which quite frankly are better quality than the previous ones anyway.

Ritual implements intended for use in the ceremonies, drawn by Florence Farr.

Horus

Horus – drawn by Florence Farr

Image

Hathor and Thoth, drawn by Florence Farr

Osiris and Harpocrates

Osiris and Horus (i.e. Harpocrates), drawn by Florence Farr.

Thanks to Martin Cherry.

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The Order of Great Osiris The Saviour

Florence Farr

Florence Farr

So there I was in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London, checking out their extensive collection of original Golden Dawn material, when I came across something I hadn’t seen before, so I presume it had only been recently been catalogued. Namely: the rituals of “The Order of Great Osiris The Saviour.”  This apparently was a post-Golden Dawn order devised by Florence Farr.

I have no evidence that the Order ever got beyond the planning stage: however Farr did manage to write out a full set of rituals for it. In a note appended to the first ritual, she wrote that she received them from “the Akashic Records” between 1899 and 1900.

The rituals themselves consist of a series of ceremonies intended to be performed at very specific times of the year: mainly when the Sun is conjunct certain of the fixed stars (the Royal stars); but also there is at least one full moon ritual as well. Each ritual centres around the adoration of one particular Egyptian God: Isis, Osiris, Horus, Thoth, Hathor etc. There is a lot of use of mantra and indeed silent contemplation throughout the rituals, so it would appear that the intention was to lead the initiate into a state of mystical consciousness as he or she participated in the ceremony.

Farr’s rituals bear little resemblance to those of the Golden Dawn. There is no “Egyptian magic as seen through a Victorian prism” of the GD, instead the symbolism is practically all ancient Egyptian (though unlike any discovered by archaeological means). Curiously though, some of the descriptions of the Royal stars bear a passing resemblance to the 7=4 ceremony of the Stella Matutina, so I wonder if this was not Florence Farr’s attempt to channel higher grade rituals herself.

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Royal Society

Was up at Freemasons’ Hall in London yesterday and popped in to the Freemasonry and the Royal Society Exhibition in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. The main thrust of it is that many of the founders of the Royal Society were – and perhaps their current members still are – Freemasons, e.g. Elias Ashmole, Desaguliers, etc.

The stated origin of the Royal Society is illuminating to say the least:

The origins of the Royal Society lie in an “invisible college” of natural philosophers who began meeting in the mid-1640s to discuss the ideas of Francis Bacon. Its official foundation date is 28 November 1660, when 12 of them met at Gresham College after a lecture by Christopher Wren, the Gresham Professor of Astronomy, and decided to found ‘a Colledge for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematicall Experimentall Learning’. This group included Wren himself, Robert Boyle, John Wilkins, Sir Robert Moray, and William, Viscount Brouncker.
History of the Royal Society

In other words, what we have here is not just a Masonic institution, but a group of individuals who attempted and succeeded to create a society based on the model of the Rosicrucians – i.e. the Invisible College.

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