2. But the main reason for my reluctancy is that in this modern laissez faire age I sense that it is futile to try to defend the traditionalist view on magical secrecy. Thus I don’t express my views here primary to engage in a debate anyone, or to prove anyone wrong. My primary motive is to provide information for my students and potential students so that they know what to expect from me or of any membership in the Temple that I head. Thus I’m not writing these words to gain any sympathy for any cause, as it’s a lost cause.
3. The Golden Dawn Tradition, since Aleister Crowley’s and Israel Regardie’s breech of their vows, is in the hands of the armchair or solitary magician (not that I equate these two). Some Temples today, although the Chiefs have noble ambitions, are noting more but meeting places for solitary occultists who seek only to gratify their own spiritual urges before the collective needs of their Temple or the Tradition itself. Few members of the modern Golden Dawn Community knows the meaning of the words “service” and “dedication” to their Temple and the preservation of the integrity of the Tradition. To be honest, I don’t like what has become of the Golden Dawn Community.
4. Although I still love the Golden Dawn Tradition immensely – and let there be no doubt about that – and even more so the Rosicrucian Current of which the Golden Dawn is part, I often find myself being a stranger in a strange land when I try to orient in this community which calls itself the “Golden Dawn”.
5. Reading suggestions by two well known Golden Dawn leaders, whom I happen to respect and like, that it would be “swell” if any yet unpublished documents ever written by the original Temples, belonging to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (G∴D∴), the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega (A∴O∴) and the Stella Matutina (S.M.), were all scanned and put up on a central data bank on the internet, makes me truly appalled. Honestly I don’t know what to say. It fells senseless even to try. It’s Futile. So I won’t try.
6. Still there are some other notions that have been more moderately suggested by one occult author and Golden Dawn Adept who made everyone a “service” in publishing a particular G∴D∴ / A∴O∴ document, that also concern me. This author has made it clear to everyone that he felt compelled to do make this document available in the wake of one of my essays; we both have one equal cross to bear. But before venturing to read any further I suggest the reader to check out my previous essay on Secrecy and Golden Dawn, as what follows is an addendum to my original statements.
7. First off there is the question regarding “public domain”. It has been suggested that any document, either in a library or in a private collection, must juridically be considered as “public domain” if it is old enough, which basically amounts to all material of the original inaugurations of the G∴D∴, A∴O∴ and S.M. I’m not a lawyer or solicitor but do raise the question if this is actually correct? Private collections are as the word implies “private”, i.e. the possession of a private individual. I haven’t heard anything yet which would suggest otherwise. And even some libraries, such as the Warburg Institute (which houses some Golden Dawn related materials) are only open for scholars, i.e. not for the public. Thus “public domain” in this context is in reality just an empty and meaningless word.
8. In the original G∴D∴, and the A∴O∴ (and I believe also the S.M.), all Order documents were part of private collections. People like W.W. Westcott and S.L. MacGregor Mathers practically owned the G∴D∴ corpus. This is the case with many Orders even today. Most independent Temples are private and the property often belongs to one or some few individuals. So according to this reasoning, anything which I write and have on my computor will become public domain in about 50 years, which means that everyone has the right to access my private files in the future to come and after I have left my earthly husk? I doubt it.
9. It is one thing regarding finding an old manuscript document in a library, although I personally would argue against publication even in these cases or at least be extremely prudent. I know of one Order in Europe who found a version of the Arcana Arcanorum in a public “freemasonic” library. But instead of publishing it they had the good taste of implementing it in their higher mysteries instead – where it properly belongs. Following the above logic, they should instead have made it public in a book, for the greater benefit of the masses. I say definitely no! Especially not material of that particular kind.
10. I once received a document with similar contents as the above-mentioned Ms. from a Frater who had unearthed it from a inaccessible library in my home country in the hope that I would partake in an project of writing a Swedish Rosicrucian anthology. Of course that project never materialized, as was expected. Some documents simply have a way of protecting themselves. Instead of resorting to publication these kind of materials should be utilized within a traditional lodge setting, for which they were designed in the first place. It neither has a place in the bookshelf of a library nor a bookshop.
11. But public libraries aside, I hold that it is outright unethical to publish anything originally belonging to a private collection without the consent of the owner, regardless of it being appropriated as a 3rd, 4th or 5th hand copy, etc. Parts of unpublished collections are known to be improperly floating around between the hands of document collectors and occultists alike, against the consent of the original owners, because of people being disrespectful of their oaths, or because of inappropriate appropriation (i.e. theft).
12. Now, some people believe that I am an all secrecy fundamentalist of some sorts when they read the above paragraphs. I may be rightly categorized as a traditionalist but fundamentalist? I don’t think so. If I were I wouldn’t have had this blog and written so openly about a diverse array of subjects regarding the Golden Dawn and the Western Mysteries. Some Adepts of the really old school views what I’m doing to be a sacrilege and a breach against my vows. They hold that it is better to never utter a damn thing about it, i.e. keeping everything secret, even the published material. On the other end of the spectrum we have the other kind of fundamentalism who often accuses everyone else of being a oppressive fundamentalist, the “open source approach”.
13. Although I wish none of this material were published in the first place, in truth I propose a middle position where you openly and freely discuss the materials published by Aleister Crowley, Israel Regardie, R.G. Torrens, Francis X. King, R.A. Gilbert, Darcy Kuntz, et al, i.e. information which now is “public domain” in the truest sense of the word as it sits in the bookshelves of most occultists already. I am not referring to privately printed and limited editions which turn up on e-bay or amazon from time to time; the contents of this material I don’t discuss openly as it is not widely distrubuted. Thus I speak of anything but the unpublished or limitedly available material regardless of secret manuscripts being written yesterday or one millennium ago.
14. Time is absolutely not a factor here. In my opinion worldly laws of “public domain” do not nor could ever apply to esoteric material, something true initiates are expected to be conscious of. Hence the function of the oath of secrecy which truly goes beyond any laws or rights concerning public domain; I’m talking about spiritual laws here. When the candidate stands in the Hall of Maat in the presence of the Holy Ones, any oath taken reverberates not only in the Temple Egregore of one’s own Order but on a universal and cosmic level as well. The oath goes beyond any spoken words said but also touches the intent and meaning behind these words. Silence and secrecy is a universal spiritual concept.
16. Thus I will have no part in this newly found tradition of profanation. You will never see a book in the bookstore with my name appended to the cover which reveals hieretho unpublished “Secrets of the Golden Dawn”. I won’t compromise the integrity of the Tradition for any personal fame, fortune and glory or for my self-gratification.
17. Contrary to what most believe, neither Crowley nor Regardie did the Golden Dawn Tradition any greater benefit. It is a myth that the Golden Dawn wouldn’t have survived without the publication of its curriculum. That was Regardie’s own psychological rationalization which has become a truism of the new millennium of Golden Dawn students. Surely, it wouldn’t had been as popular as it is today. But on the other hand we would be spared from the merchandising and commercialisation of our Sacred Tradition. We wouldn’t have had to watch it being forced into the “grand” New Age market of fast food spirituality.
18. Thus the popularity of the Golden Dawn tradition is a double-edged sword. Like G.H. Fra. L.E.S. has stated elsewhere, suddenly we see Golden Dawn magical formulae being used by chaos magicians, Satanists and neo-pagans of different denominations. What consequences has this brought to the Golden Dawn current? What unwanted forces do we actually bring in into our Sphere of Sensations when we perform a simple LBRP? This is an interesting question to ask from the occult perspective.
19. On the other hand I personally am still ambivalent towards the publication made by former Golden Dawn Adepts like Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune, Israel Regardie and Paul Foster Case. Hadn’t it been for them, I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to encounter the Golden Dawn Tradition and experienced my enamorement at first sight of it looking in a Swedish book on the paranormal. Thus on the one hand I’m mighty grateful to Regardie for breaching his vows for my own selfish sake. But on the other, after almost two decades of living with the Tradition and teaching it to other students in a traditional Temple setting, I really can see the damage being done to it since Llewellyn decided in 1969 to republish Regardie’s The Golden Dawn in its a second edition two-volume format. Up until then the Golden Dawn Tradition had just been a curiosity and had a limited exposition through small editions of Crowley’s The Equinox and Regardies The Golden Dawn.
20. But the truth is that it was the profanation by Israel Regardie that almost destroyed important lineages of a living Golden Dawn Tradition working within the Temple context. The last official A∴O∴ Temple closed its activities in the 1940’s in the wake of the publication of the first edition of The Golden Dawn, which was published in four volumes between 1937-1940. But it didn’t destroy the living Golden Dawn Tradition in its entire. The two Temples of the Stella Matutina, the Whare Ra in Havelock North, New Zeeland, and Hermes Temple in Bristol, England, survived. Hermes closed its activities in 1972 and Whare Ra in 1978, perhaps in the wake of the second edition of Regardie’s The Golden Dawn published by Llewellyn in 1969.
21. But by the time of its closure the Hermes Temple was fully immersed in the A∴O∴ current as the remaining Chiefs of the A∴O∴ were in full co-operation with the S.M. Chiefs since the 1950’s through Hermes Temple and the (Solar Order) Cromlech Temple. The fact is that the A∴O∴ and the Solar Order simultaneously also became established in New Zeeland by one immigrant A∴O∴ and Solar Order Chief. Thus the A∴O∴ current never died but found new forms instead. Other remaining A∴O∴ Adepts (often in co-operation with English S.M. Adepts) created independent Temples to preserve the Golden Dawn Tradition intact according to its original intentions as envisioned by the founders MacGregor Mathers and Westcott. One such group run by Apollon Leontas and Desmond Bourke was the London based Serapis Temple, which survived the turn of the millennium.
22. Then we have the Orders created early in the 1920’s by former A∴O∴ Adepts, most prominently the Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.) of Paul Foster Case and the Fraternity of the Inner Light of Dion Fortune (a.k.a. Violeth Firth). Dion Fortune, who is probably the second best known Golden Dawn author after Aleister Crowley, was also a member of the S.M. after she had been expelled from the A∴O∴. Both these derivative Orders preserved the Golden Dawn Tradition quite intact in their lodge work. We also have A.E. Waite’s Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, which has Temples still active today in England, although that particular tradition deviated far enough not to be properly labelled as Golden Dawn Tradition. Still it has its heritage in the Golden Dawn, which shows in its rituals (which also has been profaned quite recently). Crowley, although stemming from the Golden Dawn family tree, deviated even further and thus cannot be considered in this present discussion.
23. Furthermore, early neo-Golden Dawn Orders, or Golden Dawn derivative Orders, such as the Order of the Cubic Stone, founded by David Edwards and Robert Turner, and Countess Tamara Bourkoun’s Order of the Pyramid and the Sphinx, relied on unpublished documents belonging to private collections such as that of Gerald York. We also have the Servents of the Light (S.O.L.) of W.E. Butler, who was a direct successor to Dion Fortune’s Fraternity of the Inner Light although it worked with different rituals but within the “Western Mystery Tradition”, with its roots firmly planted in the soil of the Golden Dawn. Thus my point is that the Golden Dawn Tradition would have survived without the publication of Regardie’s editions of The Golden Dawn. I further hold that the secret Golden Dawn Tradition, as it once were preserved in its original Temple format, would have had a better chance of survival into the 21st Century wouldn’t it had been for Israel Regardie’s breach of his sacred vows.
24. The last point which I would like to bring to attention in my follow up essay on Secrecy is the curious opinion that one should make a clear distinction between the oral tradition and that of written documents. While old documents in private collections are of “public domain” and ought to be readily accessible for the uninitiated, as suggested earlier, the Oral Teachings are an entirely different matter. This is an entirely new spin on this matter and one of the clearest cases of rationalizations to justify publication. Traditionally there has never been any distinction made between teachings of a Hermetic Order, neither between “oral” or “written”. The oath of secrecy applies to both without evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation of any kind whatsoever.
25. Furthermore the next logical leap in this kind of rationalization is that there is no harm in publication of old manuscripts as they are not able to be unlocked without the necessary keys, which is given orally. Perhaps this is the case in some traditions, but not in that of the Golden Dawn. Thus I don’t agree with the opinion that one cannot properly apply the published G∴D∴ corpus without the help of “oral” traditions. Much of the Golden Dawn Inner Order material is straightforward and has a practical approach, at least when it comes to individual formulae. Many solitary G∴D∴ students have based their work solely on the written material of Crowley and Regardie quite successfully. Thus if you perform a certain Golden Dawn ritual according to the instructions, there will be obvious effects.
26. Besides, who says that an “oral” tradition encountered is necessarily a beneficial one? With so many Temples around which bases their existence on Crowley, Regardie, Torrens, King and Kuntz, there are lots of opinions and diverse experiences regarding the Golden Dawn tradition held by people irregularly initiated into the tradition. Although I do believe there exist sound oral traditions and experiences that may be shared which greatly may enhance the workings, some “oral” traditions can be a deviation to the original intent of the material and create noting but a stumbling block for the aspiring student. There are so many Golden Dawn students and teachers alike eager to share with their experience, often contradictory when compared, which has created somewhat of an inflation of “oral” traditions today.
27. But even amongst regularly initiated students there are diverse opinions of how to properly apply the “canonical texts” written by MacGregor Mathers and Westcott. Most Temples in the original G∴D∴, A∴O∴ and S.M. were quite independent and thus developed their own “oral” teachings, for better and for worse. Even here amongst chartered Temples teachings started to deviate in some quarters and develop in others. Even rituals were rewritten, as all who have compared the different publications or unpublished versions are well aware of.
28. Then we have the fact that the Stella Matutina was the offspring of a schism that separated a great body of Adepts from their original source of teachings, i.e. S.L. MacGregor Mathers who possessed the connection between the Second Order and that of the Third Order. Even Westcott seems to have supported the continuation of the A∴O∴ rather than S.M. after all dust and smoke had cleared away. Cut off from the Third Order source the Chief of the S.M., Robert Felkin, started to look for a new Secret Chief and finally found Rudolf Steiner. Through this contact some Steinerian concepts were introduced and the outlook upon the initiatory system reformed to adapt the G∴D∴ scheme to that of Steiner’s Misraim Service. Thus although the S.M. is properly an integral part of the Golden Dawn Tradition, and even made some very interesting developments on its own, it is also clear to me that it in parts deviated substantially from the original G∴D∴ and stood in contrast to the contemporary Rosicrucian Order of A∴O∴ which faithfully continued the original Golden Dawn Tradition of the G∴D∴, until it’s English branch became somewhat of a hybrid Stella Matutina-Alpha et Omega Tradition four decades after the demise of MacGregor Mathers.
29. But not even the “true oral traditions” of the Golden Dawn, who have found themselves in print, may be fully trusted to be part of the Golden Dawn Tradition proper as they emanated from a spin-off Order to the Whare Ra Temple in New Zeeland, called Order of the Table Round (O.T.R.), which continued its work after the closure of the last S.M. Temple. Thus many modern Temples, created from published works of both Crowley and Reagardie, and that of more modern authors, project their diverse visions of what the higher Grade teachings are supposed to be based on material which never takes off from the Adeptus Minor 5°=6° Grade. This material they use as a base to extrapolate teachings belonging to the Adeptus Major 6°=5° and Adeptus Exemptus 7°=4° Grades, and even to their vision of what the Third Order beyond the Abyss should properly look like.
30. But this situation is not unique to the Golden Dawn tradition. If one looks at the Rosicrucian system called the Misraïm Rite, one will find a veritable mess when it comes to the highest mysteries of Egyptian Freemasonry. There are countless of Lodges chartered, some regularly, some irregularly, and many in between. But everyone at least knows on the European continent that the highest mysteries of their Tradition are referred to as the process of internal alchemy called the Arcana Arcanorum (A.A.) mentioned above. But very few of the operative Misraïm Lodges actually possessed the A.A., which also implies that they weren’t regularly chartered in the first place, i.e. lacking in authentic lineage. Thus many Lodges invented their own A.A.:s which substantially deviated from the actual A.A. Thus there is now a dozen of false A.A.:s being administrated through initiation but only one true A.A. What happens to you and your spiritual development if you receive one of the false A.A.:s and implement it? What would happen to your Magic if you received an “oral tradition” that was in error or had little actual connection to the Tradition which it tries to explain?
31. Thus my advice is, whenever in doubt regarding any “oral” tradition received, always go back to the published corpus and check with scrutiny. If there is a contradiction between the document and any advices that you have received from your teacher or any modern author, you may be sure of that this “oral” tradition he or she represents is a deviation or later foreign incorporation. The only thing that most G∴D∴ students may be sure of is that the original documents as published through Crowley, Regardie, Torrens, King, Gilbert and Kuntz, when viewed and compared together, do constitute the canonical texts and thus are closer to the true Golden Dawn Tradition than anything else published, while books coming from the 1980’s and onwards, who purports to be the “secret oral teachings” of the Golden Dawn, must be regarded to be “apochryphical”. But as with the Christian apocrypha they sometimes may enlighten the canonical texts immensely, but sometimes not. So use your scrutiny wisely.
32. Besides a good teacher often hands out a document without any comments and sees how their student will apply it in practical work. The old Gold- und Rosenkreutz Order used to do this as part of a standard protocol, handing out curious alchemical Mss. who weren’t always easy to interpret. Those who could crack them were worthy of receiving additional instruction. Those who didn’t were hopelessly lost in the labyrinth. Now, we are a little bit more humane in my Temple. But when the student asks questions, sometimes the tutor may answer the questions openly, but sometimes only give a hint or pointer, or even suggest to “meditate” further. I.e. it is always good for a teacher to bring the student into a rapport with his own intuition (inner tutor), and check him against any deviating practices.
33. Thus, not revealing information immediately to a student isn’t at all necessary, as has been suggested, a way of wielding power over the lesser fortunate. On the contrary, more often than not, this is a sign of a truly good and experienced teacher. Inexperienced teachers are like inexperienced therapists; they are way to active and “serviceable”. Thus taking the role as teacher often entails strong temptations to hand out one advice after the other. Often it hurts not to. But the oftentimes best service a teacher may give to his student is to be silent and simply listen to the student, and see what develops in the process contained in that silence. But as they say, the hardest thing is to be a prophet in your own home village; one day I hope I will listen to my own advice better in my wish to become a good teacher and a good listener.
Since the publication of this blog post it has been sanitized and any direct references to particular individuals still living have been removed, in respect of keeping harmony and peace in the Golden Dawn Community.