The Magic Of Golden Dawn

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An esoteric Order founded in England in the 1880's, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was originally heavily influenced by Freemasonry. Its three founding members were prominent Masonic figures and early members of the first Masonic lodge of research, Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076. While the common variety of legitimate Freemasonry is not occult oriented at all, the Golden Dawn (at least in its Inner or Second Order, the R.R. et A.C.) was a full blown magical Order. Still, Masonic elements can be found in the rituals and other work of the Golden Dawn. From its beginning the Golden Dawn and most of its offshoots have admitted women on an equal basis with men.

The Order continues to exist today in various forms throughout the world. These range from ripoff artists and egomaniacal manipulators to sincere men and women preserving the traditions of the Order. There are those who want to "control" the Golden Dawn for their own purposes, and those who freely share what they have and encourage others in this field. If this sounds like religion, it is not a coincidence.

The history of the Golden Dawn from its origins to the present, has been plagued by strange and bizarre people doing strange and bizarre things. In general, if the "Chiefs" of a Temple largely make a living from their involvement in the Order beware! If they claim to be the One, True and Only Authentic "Rosicrucian" Order (except for the few Others that acknowledge all of their self proclaimed "Authority") you are, frankly, better off looking elsewhere. However, you say, you want to join the Golden Dawn. You're smart, young, sensitive and have a penchant for Hermeticism of the Golden Dawn type. The history, rituals and regalia really move your romantic spirit. You visualize yourself in flowing robes wielding your Magical Sword to banish evil and invoke the Holy Archangels in dramatic form. However, the more that you look into the Golden Dawn groups that publicize themselves, and the more you read the postings of alleged adepts on the alt.magick news group and elsewhere, the less confidence you have in the existing branches of the Order that you see out there. What's an Aspirant to do? Well, there is nothing to stop sincere persons from forming their own group. An enormous amount of material has been freely available online and elsewhere for many years. A diligent search will reap many rewards. Meditation and practical experience persisted in over a long period of time will overcome tremendous obstacles. A background in some sort of fraternal organization that works ritual might be helpful. Israel Regardie would always recommend any individual interested in following a Magical path to seek and stick with some form of psychological therapy. There are many mentally unbalanced people in this field. They are best avoided when identified as such. They will do nothing for your spiritual advancement. Expect only to be disappointed by them. Certainly a good sense of humor is necessary. An industrial strength bullshit detector is essential when getting involved with any religious or occult group. Think for yourself and don't be a zombie for this or any other Order. Good luck!


The Grades of the Golden Dawn

First or Outer Order

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

0° = 0° Neophyte

1° = 10° Zelator

2° = 9° Theoricus

3° = 8° Practicus

4° = 7° Philosophus


Second or Inner Order

Ordo Rosea Rubea et Aurea Crucis

5° = 6° Adeptus Minor

6° = 5° Adeptus Major

7° = 4° Adeptus Exemptus


Third Order


8° = 3° Magister Templi

9° = 2° Magus

10° = 1° Ipsissimus


Some branches of the Order add a grade between 4° = 7° Philosophus and 5° = 6° Adeptus Minor called the Portal Grade. Some also add "sub grades" to the 5° = 6° Adeptus Minor Grade: Zelator Adeptus Minor, Theoricus Adeptus Minor, Practicus Adeptus Minor and Philosophus Adeptus Minor. These sub grades usually have no ceremony of initiation but do have examinations which must be passed before proceeding to the next one. Other branches of the Order do not do this. Some branches of the Order do not work the ceremonial of the "Elemental Grades" of 1° = 10° Zelator through 4° = 7° Philosophus although they do administer the traditional examinations of these Grades. The current ceremonial work of these various branches of the Order can vary quite substantially at times from published versions of the ritual as they appear in Crowley's Equinox, Regardie's Golden Dawn and Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic or Torrens Secret Rituals of the Golden Dawn. Traditions and examinations can also vary considerably from one group to another. Some groups (for a fee) will confer the work "astrally" upon distant candidates. Some charge relatively "high" fees for each Grade as well as additional annual dues. Some groups are headed by extremely authoritorian individuals. These are best avoided entirely. Some charge little or no money at all.


A Golden Dawn Library

by Gary Ford

This list is by no means complete. The following titles are suggested as having been of much use to ourselves and others over the years. Some of these books have gone through many editions and some editions of a particular book may have changes from the original text that can considerably affect the material dealt with. Some titles may be difficult to acquire as they have been out of print for many years. These titles are listed anyway as they might be found through dealers in used books or may be reprinted in the future.

Printed Golden Dawn Source Material

The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic by Israel Regardie, New Falcon Publications. Originally published in 1984. This work is one of Regardie's last contributions to Golden Dawn literature. It took him two years of work whilst in ill health near the end of his life. Though lacking an index and flawed in other ways it is an important textbook. Later editions have some interesting changes, as indeed the first edition has from the papers that Regardie & others were working with for this book.

The Golden Dawn. An Account of the Teachings, Rites and Ceremonies of the Order of the Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie. This work was originally published by Aries Press of Chicago in four volumes which were issued between 1937 and 1940. One thousand sets were published in the first edition. The four volume set originally didn't sell very well and Aries still had sets in their warehouse in the early 1960's. In 1969 Llewellyn issued the book in a two volume set "revised and enlarged" and later the work appeared in one volume (hardback). After Regardie's death, the work was finally issued in paperback form. Many small additions and some changes were incorporated into the text of the paperback edition by persons other than Regardie. One must be careful in evaluating the contributions of those other than Regardie in the paperback editions. These were written after his death when Regardie could not speak for himself or rebut others remarks which are not always accurate. In spite of this and the fact that Regardie felt some aspects of the book to be incomplete or obsolete, it remains a valuable resource for the Golden Dawn student of today. The publisher has gone to considerable time and expense to make the book easy to compare to previous editions and most importantly has included a much needed and well done index. Comparing hardback editions of this work, later paperback editions, early editions of The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic and copies of actual pre-1900 Golden dawn manuscripts with each other in order to evaluate changes made over the years and various editions can prove quite interesting.

The Secret Rituals of the Golden Dawn by R.G. Torrens, Samuel Weiser, 1972. The rituals of 0°= 0° through 4°= 7° from about 1897 are presented. Unfortunately inaccuracies abound in Torrens own text with regards to historical matters, mottos of members and some other items. This work is valuable for comparing various versions of the published Golden Dawn rituals.

The Equinox Volume I Numbers 1-10 by Aleister Crowley (ed.), Samuel Weiser, 1992. This reissue of Crowley's Equinox contains a great deal of importance. In the serial biography entitled The Temple of Solomon the King there are Golden Dawn rituals, numerous illustrations, commentary, etc. It was in the pages of the Equinox that Israel Regardie was first introduced to the Golden Dawn.

The Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn by P.J. Zalewski, Falcon Press, 1988. In addition to some historical materiel on the Order activities of Dr. Felkin in New Zealand this work contains a version of the Cipher Manuscripts and versions of the 6°= 5° and 7°= 4° Grade rituals. Unfortunately, there are numerous inaccuracies the Cipher Manuscript and other materiel.

The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript; Deciphered, Translated, and Edited by Darcy Kuntz. Introduction by R. A. Gilbert, Holmes Publishing Group, 1996. This important work gives the foundation rituals of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Mr Kuntz has done an outstanding job in presenting this valuable material.

Astral Projection, Magic, and Alchemy. Golden Dawn Material by S.L. MacGregor Mathers and Others. Edited and Introduced by Francis King. Additional Material by R.A. Gilbert by S.L. MacGregor Mathers, and Others, Destiny Books, 1987. This book consists of several of the "Flying Rolls" or side lectures of supplementary material for Golden Dawn members.


"If it seems that I have concentrated on their follies and misdeeds, this is because the story of the Order is largely a story of follies and misdeeds" R.A. Gilbert

The Magicians of the Golden Dawn. A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923 by Ellic Howe, First published in England in 1972 by Routledge & Keagan Paul Ltd. Second printing of American edition by Samuel Weiser, 1984. This work is clearly the definitive history of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. When Mr. Howe released this bombshell of a book much of the letters, papers and other material contained within it had been inaccessible. Howe's book upset many occultists by conclusions that he reached after a careful and detailed examination of the original source material that he had come upon. Regardie himself was very bitter about the theories developed by Howe in the book. Howe believed that all of the letters from "Anna Sprengel" which authorized Westcott to found the Golden Dawn were forged by him and that there was in fact no such person as Anna Sprengel. Whether or not one agrees with Mr. Howe's conclusions or theories he clearly presents many hard facts to support them.

The Golden Dawn Companion. A Guide to the History, Structure, and Workings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Compiled and introduced by R.A. Gilbert, Aquarian Press, 1986. This book is primarily a reference work. While it is an important work in its own right it also forms an excellent supplement to Ellic Howe's work above. As was the case with Mr. Howe, Mr. Gilbert has had direct access to many primary original Golden Dawn papers, letters, etc. and presents us with a great deal of this material. His original contributions in the work are lively and clearly written and more objective than most writers on the subject. His arrangement of the material is logical and most helpful. Those making a detailed study of the Order for whatever reason will find this work invaluable.

The Golden Dawn. Twilight of the Magicians. The Rise and Fall of a Magical Order by R.A. Gilbert, Aquarian Press, 1983. With a foreword by Israel Regardie. In 144 pages Mr. Gilbert presents the clearest and most concise account of the history of the Order. Golden Dawn Material is included in this book that appears nowhere else.

The Golden Dawn Scrapbook. The Rise and Fall of a Magical Order by R.A. Gilbert, Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1997. In this work Mr. Gilbert continues to fill in historical gaps of the Order by presenting material from the lives of early members. As he states in the introduction "This book is intended simply to provide an overview of the Order, and to tell its story through the lives and actions (or inactions) of its members. If it seems that I have concentrated on their follies and misdeeds, this is because the story of the Order is largely a story of follies and misdeeds". This legacy is as strong now as it ever was before. The book contains great photographs and many items of interest.

What You Should Know About The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie, New Falcon Publications, Revised Third Edition, 1983. The first edition of this book appeared in 1936 as My Rosicrucian Adventure. This work is the account of Regardie's experiences in Hermes Temple in England in the early 1930's.

Sword of Wisdom. MacGregor Mathers and the Golden Dawn by Ithell Colquhoun, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1975. Contains information about the Golden Dawn and later offshoots such as the Stella Matutina and others not found elsewhere though not always factual.

Modern Ritual Magic. The Rise of Western Occultism by Francis King, Prism Unity, 1989. Originally published as Ritual Magic in England by Neville Spearman Limited in 1970. Much valuable material but not always reliable for facts. King is lively and fun to read.

The Rosicrucians The History, Mythology and Rituals of an Occult Order by Christopher McIntosh, Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1997. Originally published as The Rosy Cross Unveiled, Aquarian Press limited, 1980. The later edition is the Third, revised and expanded. I think that this book is the best introduction to Rosicrucianism in print. It is well written and concise. A chapter on the Golden Dawn is included as well as interesting Masonic material, etc.

The Rosicrucian Enlightenment by Frances A. Yates, Shambhala, 1978. One of the few sane and scholarly books on Rosicrucianism.

The Women of the Golden Dawn, Rebels and Priestesses by Mary K. Greer, Park Street Press, 1995. A valuable contribution to Golden Dawn literature.

Some Additional Useful Titles

The Tree of Life, A Study in Magic by Israel Regardie, Samuel Weiser, 1973. Originally published in the early 1930's in England, this work brought Regardie condemnation from one Golden Dawn Chief and an invitation to become a member from another. It still stands as a classic introduction to Western Ceremonial Magic.

A Garden of Pomegranates. An outline of the Qabalah by Israel Regardie, Llewellyn, 1988. This Regardie classic was originally published in 1932.

The Middle Pillar. A co-relation of the principles of analytical psychology and the elementary techniques of magic by Israel Regardie, Aries Press, 1945. This work is one of Regardie's greatest contributions to Golden Dawn ritual technique. Regardie greatly expanded upon a ceremony that was really just hinted at in the Golden Dawn papers. A new edition is currently available from Llewellyn.

Ceremonial Magic. A guide to the Mechanisms of Ritual by Israel Regardie, Aquarian Press, 1980. Regardie elaborates the ritual of Opening by Watchtower.

A.E. Waite, Magician of Many Parts by R.A. Gilbert, Crucible, 1987. Waite is a towering figure in Western Occultism. His contribution to esoteric literature is prodigious and important. He was indeed the greatest scholar of the Golden Dawn. Mr. Gilbert's study of Waite has filled an important need in bringing us the man and his work in an accurate and fascinating book. Highly recommended.

A.E. Waite A Bibliography by R.A. Gilbert, The Aquarian Press, 1983. An important contribution for students of a remarkable man and the subjects which he dealt with. A good companion to Gilbert's Biography of Waite.

The Hermetic Papers of A.E. Waite. The unknown Writings of a Modern Mystic Edited by R.A. Gilbert, The Aquarian Press, 1987. In this book Mr. Gilbert brings us several rare Gems from his incredible collection of Waite material. Included are many items from Waite's own Golden Dawn Temple.

Eliphas Levi and the French Occult Revival by Christopher McIntosh, Samuel Weiser, 1972. This important book delineates the life and work of one of the most important figures in occultism of the 19th Century. Levi had a profound influence on the founders of the Golden Dawn.

The Mysteries of Magic. A Digest of the Writings of Eliphas Levi., With a Biographical and Critical Essay By Arthur Edward Waite University Books, Inc., 1974. The best of Levi in one volume together with valuable contributions by A.E. Waite. Levi's influence upon the early members of the Golden Dawn was profound.

The Chaldean Oracles of Julianus. Edited and revised by Sapere Aude (William Wynn Westcott), Heptangle Books, 1978.

An Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah by William Wynn Westcott, Wehman Bros., no date. This little volume is an excellent introduction to basic Golden Dawn style Kabalah.

Numbers. Their Occult Power and Mystic Virtues by William Wynn Westcott, Theosophical Publishing House Limited, 1974.

Sepher Yetzirah. The Book of Formation Translated from the Hebrew by Wm. Wynn Westcott, Samuel Weiser, no date.

The Qabalah of Aleister Crowley Weiser, 1973. Includes Crowley's Liber 777, Gematria (from the Equinox, Vol. I) and Sepher Sephiroth (also from the Equinox Vol. I).

Egyptian Magic. An essay on the nature and applications of magical practices in Pharonic and Ptolemaic Egypt. by Florence Farr, Aquarian Press, 1982.

The Dream of Scipio Translated by Percy Bullock, Aquarian Press, 1983.

The Sorcerer and His Apprentice. Unknown Hermetic Writings Of S.L. MacGregor Mathers and J.W. Brodie-Innes Edited and introduced by R.A. Gilbert, The Aquarian Press, 1983. A collection of little known and rarely seen papers of Mathers and Brodie-Innes edited and introduced in top form by (as you may have guessed) one of my favorite authors.

The Magical Mason. Forgotten Hermetic Writings of William Wynn Westcott, Physician and Magus Edited and introduced by R.A. Gilbert, Aquarian Press, 1983. Once more Mr. Gilbert brings us a wonderful selection of lesser known and rare writings of one of the principle founders of the Golden Dawn.

The Rosicrucian Seer. Magical Writings of Frederick Hockley Edited by John Hamill, The Aquarian Press, 1986. Hockley is mentioned only too briefly in the many versions of the history of the Golden Dawn. There are real treasures here and also an enlightening contribution from R.A. Gilbert.

The Alchemist of the Golden Dawn. The Letters of the W.A. Ayton to F.L. Gardner and Others 1886-1905 Edited by Ellic Howe, The Aquarian Press, 1985. In his introduction Ellic Howe referred to this book as an extensive footnote to his Magicians of the Golden Dawn. It is that and more. These works give us a glimpse of the early members of the Order and their lives and times in their own words.

Yeats's Golden Dawn. The influence of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn on the life and art of W.B. Yeats by George Mills Harper, The Aquarian Press, 1987. Much valuable material regarding Yeats and his experiences with the Golden Dawn.

The Royal Masonic Cyclopedia by Kenneth Mackenzie, Introduced by John Hamill and R.A. Gilbert, The Aquarian Press, 1987. A wonderful reissue of the rare work which first appeared in 1877. The fine introduction to this edition by Gilbert and Hamill gives plenty of reasons why students of the Golden Dawn will find this work of interest.

An Interview with Israel Regardie. His Final Thoughts and Views Edited by Christopher S. Hyatt, Falcon Press, 1985. This lively and rare interview captures Regardie's personality as he chats with Christopher Hyatt. It stands indeed as his "final thoughts and views." Before the book reached the final editing stage Regardie passed from this life and into the next stage of The Great Adventure.

A Mind So Rare The Evolution of Human Consciousness by Merlin Donald, W. W. Norton & Company, 2001. What is consciousness and how did it evolve? An important issue and an important work.

Religion Explained. The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer, Basic Books, 2001. A challenging book. Do you dare to examine the foundations of your religious ideas? Dare!

It is hoped that you will find this book list and commentary useful. In general, the dedicated student will obtain as many books about the Golden Dawn as possible and read and use them. Any group that forbids reading any of this material and attempts to stifle your enquiries into it should be shunned as unfit to teach and lead you. A careful textual analysis of the ritual material in particular will lead to many interesting discoveries.


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