Now, the good Frater Olen Rush recently published a transcript from a visionary experience back in 1888 by one Frater Vota Vita Mea, that is Thomas Henry Pattison which is listed as No. 8 of the Horus Temple No. 5 membership roll, admitted as a 5°=6° by march 1888.
This letter has previously been published in full by R.A. Gilbert in his The Golden Dawn Scrapbook, pages 37-39. The transcript reeds in full thus (retaining comments by Mr. Gilbert within square brackets):
Copy of Communication from the Inner Ring, made to Fra. Vota Vita Mea, given in his letter of June 20, 1888 to Fra Sapere Aude:
The Crowned One gave to Fras. V.V.M. and H. [presumably F.D. Harrison] much information concerning the natural creation and the following symbol was the one he adopted to illustrate primary creation or the union of ﬁrst causes:
After this Fra. H. was conducted by an Eagle-headed messenger into the presence of the Angel R + [Raphael] (whom I, S'Rioghail Mo Dhream, know by the motto L[ux] e T[enebris]) He said:Now, people has of course noted the particular mention by S.L. MacGregor Mathers of Lux e Tenebris, the motto that MacGregor Mathers re-used for his later in the flesh Secret Chief which he met in Paris in 1892. Some have therefore speculated that MacGregor Mathers started out with a belief of solely astral or angelic powers as the source of the Third Order, and that he later on changed his beliefs into the concept of continental Rosicrucian initiates.
‘I wish to speak to you of the G.D. The prime mover of it must exercise the keenest possible care, and must not accept people into its secrets who are not Occult Students, they all ought to have some occult development which has been the outcome of their own research; otherwise much Evil Magic will be the result. Much good can come out of it if rightly directed, but one Evil One can upset the Harmony of the whole, so that its efforts would be neutral for a lengthy period. The Idea in view must be not to establish an Order; but to gather together those men who are an Order In themselves. Understand that the G.D. is MY Order and that I am and must be accountable for it. The last one initiated [Dr T.W. Coffin, who left the Order within a year having remained in the grade of Neophyte] must be considered and allowed to wait before giving information; 2 or 3 others also are not of much use, and others are likely to drop out. You must take every care not to initiate any who have no occult tendency in a degree developed. Convey my message to those who can carry out my advice.
‘You must consider yourselves highly favoured indeed for being allowed to come in contact with the one (the Crowned One) you did tonight.
‘Also, I would caution and advise you to be very careful in the use of Divine Names, and all symbols should (be) correctly traced. I have seen this lady in Switzerland whom you have been trying to release. I conﬁrm the work you have attempted. But you have failed to fully carry out your intention. The failure is due to the want of correctness in carrying out your Ritual. When the Divine Names are used they are made operative by the emotion of the Soul; if uttered by a cold soul-starved man they are of no use. Put your soul-power into them, and let your whole being speak them; then they do become Operative; and the ﬁnal Issue of this lady in Switzerland is left open at present for your instruction. You have discovered and commanded the assailants, but you have not yet subdued them; although she will be very carefully watched now: You must make your promise of protection a fact, and establish it as a permanent operation. I shall see you again as to this.’
He also said; - ‘The G.D. will soon ﬁnd the prime movers plenty to do; they will have more applicants than they can take; and if not careful will get beyond their control.’
He then said to Fra. H, ‘You can go’; and the Eagle-headed Messenger conducted him back.
For me this seems plausible, and even more plausible that he believed in both. I personally believe that MacGregor Mathers used the Lux e Tenebris phrase as a generic motto for whatever Secret Chief or source of inspiration he had come into contact with or believe in at a certain point. After the meeting with his physical Secret Chief in Paris he started to apply that motto onto him. Later on there started to spread a false rumour that the identity of L.e.T. was a Dr. Thiessen of Liege, who supposedly died in 1909. However, it’s a well known fact amongst initiates that the L.e.T. motto is a blind, and that the real motto and true identity of MacGregor Mathers’ continental Secret Chief is still secret to this day.
However, one reconstructionist and history revisionist author has even suggested that MacGregor Mathers must have referred to the infamous Madame Horos as his Secret Chief when he announced that he had been visited by them in the flesh. But in his usual manner this author hasn’t made his homework sufficiently enough and completely either missed or ignored the fact that MacGregor Mathers’ in the flesh contact with Madame Horos was established in early 1900, while he made his first official and written claims of physical contact with his Secret Chiefs back in 1896, that is four years prior to him taking in Madame Horos and her husband as guests at his Paris house. He also totally misses the fact that MacGregor Mathers in a weak moment (probably his weakest) believed Madame Horus to be fräulein Sprengel, who used the motto of Sapiens Dominabitur Astris, not that of Lux E Tenebris.
Now let me present the facts, not any fantasies, and again quote MacGregor Mathers’ manifesto concerning the Secret Chiefs in full:
The Manifesto of G.H. Frater Deo Duce Comite Ferro 7° = 4°, Adeptus Exemptus, Chief Adept and Ambassador of those Secret and Unknown Magi who are the concealed Rulers of the Wisdom of the True Rosicrucian Magic of Light:It is my belief that this manifesto should be treated as an official order document and statement on the nature of the Secret Chiefs and the Third Order, at the time period of MacGregor Mathers’ most frequent encounters with them. I would also in this instance want to quote W. B. Yeats from his Autobiographies, written in 1926. Here Yeats recalls a conversation with MacGregor Mathers concerning the the Secret Chiefs:
The Theorici Adepti Minores of the Order R∴ R∴ et A∴ C∴
Notice: This Manifesto is to be placed in the hands of each Theoricus Adeptus Minor upon his or her attainment of that Grade. After he or she has carefully read the same; he or she must send a written Statement of voluntary submission in all points regarding the Orders of the G∴D∴ in the Outer and the R∴R∴ et A∴C∴ to G.H. Frater Deo Duce Comite Ferro before being permitted to receive any further instruction. Unless he or she is prepared to do this, he or she must either Resign from the Order, or elect to remain a Zelator Adeptus Minor only. And he or she hereby undertakes to refrain from stirring up any strife or schism hereon in the First and Second Orders.
It is necessary that you who have now attained the Grade of Theoricus Adeptus Minor after having passed through the numerous examinations on the Secret Knowledge of the Zelator Adeptus Minor Grade of the Second Order should now understand how that wonderful system of Occult Wisdom has been obtained for you.
Prior to the establishment of the Vault of the Adepts in Britannia (the First Order of the G∴D∴ in the Outer being therein actively working) it was found absolutely and imperatively necessary that there should be some eminent Member especially chosen to act as the link between the Secret Chiefs and the more external forms of the Order. It was requisite that such Member should be me, who, while having the necessary and peculiar educational basis of critical and profound Occult Archaeological Knowledge should at the same time not only be ready and willing to devote himself in every sense to a blind and unreasoning obedience to those Secret Chiefs: - to pledge himself for the fidelity of those to whom this Wisdom was to be communicated: - to be one who would shrink neither from danger physical, astral, or spiritual, from privation or hardship, nor from terrible personal and psychic responsibility; one who, while receiving for transmission the Hidden Wisdom of the Rosy Cross, should be willing to pledge himself under the severest penalties possible, that the Order should be worked in conformity with the principles laid down by those Secret Chiefs not only for the present time but in the future also: - and who should further possess an Iron Will unable to be broken by any unlooked for opposition that might arise in the carrying out of these duties: - he must further pledge himself to obey in everything the commands of the aforesaid Secret Chiefs 'perinde ac cadaver' body and soul without question and without argument whether their commands related to: - Magical Action in the External World; or to Psychic Action in other Worlds or planes, whether Angelic, Spiritual, or Demonic; or to the Inner Administration of the Order to which so tremendous a Knowledge was to be communicated; and that he must further be prepared to abide in any country; to undertake any journey at a moment's notice, or to confront the chances of death, pestilence or elemental upheaval, if called upon in the course of fulfilling their demands to do so; that he would further undertake, whatever might occur, never to lose faith in the Chiefs of the Order, and to keep his body in such a condition of physical health and especially of vital energy, that the ordinary chances of corporal illness and exhaustion should not be permitted to become any bar to his constant efforts and exertions: - all this and yet further conditions were insisted upon as the only pledges under which this Divine Wisdom was to be permitted to be given out: - and these had to be confirmed by the most terrible Obligations.
I, MacGregor Mathers, 'S Rioghail Mo Dhream 5° = 6°, Deo Duce Comite Ferro 7° = 4°, was the Frater selected for this Work: whom you know as the Chief Adept of the Second Order under the title of Deo Duce Comite Ferro which I had taken upon me.
At my urgent request Soror Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum [i.e. Moina Mathers] was allowed to be associated with me in this labour, but only on condition of pledging herself in the same manner, though in a less degree.
With all this it was insisted that I, the aforesaid Frater, and in a less degree the aforesaid Soror were to be held responsible for any action undertaken thro' misapprehension of the instructions of the Chiefs, no matter in what manner those Instructions were to be conveyed.
That yet further it must not be expected that these pledges should confer upon me any right to expect abnormal material support or assistance. The conditions in question, being only those on which I was to be allowed so great an honour as to be the Recipient of the Knowledge for transmission to the Order; and also that in all this my obedience was not to be the passive one of an unreasoning Machine, but the active one of the intelligent and voluntary Ministrant of the Magic of the Eternal Gods.
These preliminary conditions having been solemnly undertaken by us; then, and only then was I able to proceed to the attainment of the Knowledge of the full 5° = 6° Ritual and of the Obligation thereof; and the establishment of the Vault of the Adepts; my quitting England being a necessary preliminary thereto.
The working of the Second Order having been thus initiated I was enabled to proceed to the acquirement of the Wisdom of the Zelator Adeptus Minor Grade for transmission to you: - a work, the enormous strain and labour of which it is impossible for me to exaggerate. For, you must not think that the obtaining of this Knowledge of the Second Order for you has been merely and simply the somewhat commonplace labour of translating a heap of unclassified MSS ready placed in my hands for that purpose. This might indeed be difficult and fatiguing, but it would be the merest child's play compared with the Herculean task that I have been called upon to execute.
Concerning the Secret Chiefs of the Order, to whom I make reference and from whom I have received the Wisdom of the Second Order which I have communicated to you, I can tell you nothing.
I do not even know their earthly names.
I know them only by certain secret mottoes.
I have but very rarely seen them in the physical body; and on such rare occasions the rendezvous was made astrally by them at the time and place which had been astrally appointed beforehand.
For my part I believe them to be human and living upon this earth; but possessing terrible superhuman powers.
When such rendezvous has been in a much frequented place, there has been nothing in their personal appearance and dress to mark them out as differing in any way from ordinary people except the appearance and sensation of transcendent health and physical vigour (whether they seemed persons in youth or age) which was their invariable accompaniment; in other words, the physical appearance which the possession of the Elixir of Life has traditionally supposed to confer!
On the other hand, when the rendezvous has been in a place free from easy access by the Outer World they have usually been in symbolic robes and insignia.
But my physical intercourse with them on these rare occasions, has shewn me how difficult it is for a mortal, even though advanced in Occultism, to support the actual presence of an Adept in the Physical Body; and such meetings have never been granted to my own personal request, but only by their own special appointment; and usually only for some reason of special importance.
I do not mean that in such rare cases of physical converse with them that the effect produced on me was that intense physical exhaustion which follows depletion by magnetism; but, on the contrary, the sensation was that of being in contact with so terrible a force that I can only compare it to the continued effect of that usually experienced momentarily by a person close to whom a flash of lightning passes during a violent storm; coupled with a difficulty in respiration similar to the half-strangling effect produced by ether; and if such was the result produced in one, as tested as I have been in practical Occult Work, I cannot conceive a much less advanced Initiate being able to support such a strain even for five minutes, without Death ensuing.
Almost the whole of the Second Order Knowledge has been obtained by me from them in various ways; by clairvoyance, by Astral projection on their part and on mine-by the table, by the ring and disc, at times by a direct Voice audible to my external ear, and that of Vestigia, at times copied from books brought before me, I know not how, and which disappeared from my vision when the transcription was finished, at times by appointment Astrally at a certain place, till then unknown to me; and appointments made in the same manner and kept in the same manner as in the case of those rare occasions when I have met them by appointment in the physical body.
The strain of such labour has been, as you can conceive, enormous; in especial the obtaining of the Z ritual, which I thought would have killed me, or Vestigia or both, the nerve prostration after each reception being terrible from the strain of testing the correctness of every passage thus communicated; the nerve prostration alluded to being at times accompanied by profuse cold perspirations; and by severe loss of blood from the nose, mouth, and occasionally the ears.
You know the extreme and sustained attention and critical judgment requisite to obtain any reliable and truthful answer through the Table or the Ring and the Disc. Add to all this Ceremonies of Evocation, almost constant strife with opposing Demonic Forces endeavouring to stop the delivery and reception of the Wisdom; and the necessity of keeping the mind exalted towards the Higher Self; while at the same time exercising the critical Archaeological Knowledge and having to make the many references necessary to detect any misapprehension of meanings of passages in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldaic, Egyptian and what not; and you will only then have a faint idea of what my struggles have been. The only one among you who has known the fearful difficulties I have had to contend with, has been Sapere Aude [Westcott] and he has therefore well known that such work could not be done in a hurry and rapidly like mere mechanical transcription, or even like ordinary original composition.
But unless the Chiefs are willing to give me the Knowledge, I cannot obtain it for you: - neither will I give it to you unless I know that the Order is being worked conformably with their wishes and instructions.
What I discountenance and will check and punish whenever I find it in the Order is any attempt to criticise and interfere with the private life of Members of the Order; neither will I give the Wisdom of the Gods to those who endeavour to use it as a means of justifying intolerance, intermeddling, and malicious self conceit. The private Life of a Person is a matter between himself or herself, and his, or her God; and no person who has taken the obligation of 5° = 6°, and studied the same can be ignorant of its clauses and penalties.
The Temples of the Order are places for the performance of Sacred Ceremonies, and the petty criticisms and uncharitableness of social clubs and drawing rooms, should be rigidly banished from them. To invoke carelessly and inadequately the Divine White Brilliance and the Forms of the Eternal Gods while permitting your mind and lower personality to be filled with uncharitableness; towards your neighbour, self righteous pride, and trivial social considerations, is an abominable blasphemy; it is that taking the Name of God in vain which is a most pernicious sin; for by so doing you cannot touch the God, but instead and in his semblance arouse the Evil Antithesis.
This, I know, has been a sin among you during the last twelve months; and be sure that this must bring its reaction; and there is no surer road to this error than the encouragement of the feeling of the Pharisee: ‘God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are’. Such a formula, whether expressed or implied, means at once separation from that God who is universal.
Of what use are the Second Order Centres, if they are not places where the Gods and the Angelic Forces are invoked in Spirit and Truth; and where Mystic Powers have their abode, and where petty social gossip can find no place.
It is possible for you to be word perfect in all the knowledge of the Zelator Adeptus Minor Grade and to know all its Ceremonies by rote; and yet unless you can really and profoundly grasp their inner meaning, an uninitiated person who has a strong will, faith, reverence, self sacrifice, and perseverance, may be more truly a Magician than you.
Finally, the reading of this Manifesto will have made you comprehend the enormous amount of time and energy necessary to obtain the Wisdom of the Second Order. To this must be added the considerable amount of labour connected with the Order - my own work in the outer world - and with all this the imperative necessity of keeping my physical health and vital energy always up to full pitch; and at times having had the extra disadvantage of being compelled to earn my own living in the world.
I therefore expect you to aid me to the best of your ability by carrying out my wishes regarding the management of the Order and by abstaining to the utmost of your power from putting any extra hindrance in my way.
I have considered it advisable that you should have both had in your possession and carefully studied the whole knowledge of the Zelator Adeptus Minor Grade before receiving this Manifesto.
S. L. MacGregor Mathers. 'S Rioghail Mo Dhream
Deo Duce Comite Ferro 7° = 4°
87 Rue Mozart, Auteuil, Paris
October 29th, 1896
Once, when Mathers told me that he had met his Teachers in some great crowd, and only knew that they were phantoms by a shock that was like an electric shock to his heart, I asked him how he knew he was not deceived or hallucinated. He said, “I had been visited by one of them the other night, and I followed him out, and followed him down that little lane to the right. Presently I fell over the milk-boy, and the milk-boy got in a rage because he said that not only I but the man in front had fallen over him.” He, like all that I have known who have given themselves up to images, and to the speech of images, thought that when he had proved that an image could act independently of his mind, he had proved also that neither it, nor what it had spoken, had originated there.This account fully corroborates MacGregor Mathers’ beliefs as shown in the above quoted manifesto and fully refute Madame Horus as his Secret Chief, which is a proposperous and outrageous proposition in the first place. A further evidence of this is that it is clearly stated in the manifesto that the reason of MacGregor Mathers and his wife Moina to leave England and permanently moving to Paris was to come closer to his Secret Chiefs, such as L.e.T.; thus it reads:
I [was] able to proceed to the attainment of the Knowledge of the full 5° = 6° Ritual and of the Obligation thereof; and the establishment of the Vault of the Adepts; my quitting England being a necessary preliminary thereto.S.L. MacGregor Mathers’ statement must be placed in juxtaposition with what Moina Mathers, in her preface to her husband’s book The Kabbalah Unveiled, wrote in 1926 concerning this matter:
Three or four years later he was told by his Occult teachers to transfer his centre to Paris, where my husband and I lived for the rest of his life.There is no doubt in my mind that Moina clearly refers to S.L. MacGregor Mathers’ prime motivation to move to Paris as to facilitate his communication with his Secret Chiefs. If they were solely astral or angelical contacts, surely there wouldn't be any need of a physical relocation. These written statements, when compared together, for me clearly confirms that his Occult teachers were real and physical individuals.
It is fine by me that there is a variety in the Golden Dawn community. It is fine by me that we share different views regarding the Secret Chiefs and the Third Order, or even that some deny the very existence of the latter and regard it only to be a myth, etc. Each to his own. But what I cannot accept is that facts are being twisted around to serve a militant reconstructionist agenda.
I have watched this debate regarding the Secret Chiefs silently up until now. I honestly don’t care what others think about them or about others’ opinions about my beliefs. These days I’m not surprised at anything anymore; there are obviously no limits to the amount of delusions in the community. Without any connection with the tradition to restraint the imagination people have all sorts of personal opinions and are damn proud to present them all over the internet. The idioticy of the Golden Dawn community is starting to get so piled up it must be almost impossible to wade through it as a prospecting initiate. People may actually start to believe in these fantasies. That’s why I feel obliged to set the record straight.
This whole matter has made me ponder the sad and sordid state of the Golden Dawn community. It has dawned upon me for the last couple of days that it [i.e. the community] produces scholars rather than Adepts. Many today even equate them two. Since the dawn of the last revival of the Golden Dawn Tradition in the 1970’s, it has been a subject to historical research with scholars as Ellic Howe, Francis X. King and R.A. Gilbert. This has put a tone to the whole current. Adepts of the tradition has followed suit en masse.
Now, I do believe that scholarship is a good thing, but if taken moderately. To many initiates and students of the Golden Dawn have an overly detached and dispassionate attitude towards its Tradition. It is not a historical curiosity that can be reconstructed at will; it’s a living Tradition that wants to express itself according to its own rationale. Is has its own soul, it is an entity which acts as an intermediary between the Divine and the mundane. It is possible that the first quoted document (from V.V.M.) captures that notion and spirit. Read it again from this point of view.
Where are the feelings of awe and sacredness in relation to the Tradition? I don’t know about you, but I have had a strong and passionate love affair with the Golden Dawn. For me It is truly a mistress. A jealous mistress, yes, but one which also comforts me and makes me aspire to better myself as a human. I am never alone with the Golden Dawn. She is a infinite source of joy and inspiration. The richness of the Golden Dawn, of its written and living Tradition, is awe inspiring. It is a beautiful Tradition which has been passed on to us to be managed as its stewards, for the betterment of its initiates. As initiates we are her children. Some of her children have been more able than others to act as her vehicles for transmission and expression, which has developed or reformed the Tradition further. These are the most proficient Adepts and prominent teachers, who would naturally become the Chiefs.
Granted, the Golden Dawn is not a religion, and the Order is not a Church. Neither should it be a personality cult. But the Order is not an academic institute, nor is its teachings any science theory. The Golden Dawn is a spiritual path which can be equated with any spiritual path, also those as represented by different religions and Churches. The Order is a Holy institution. It is eternal. Its Halls are sacred as well as it rites; its Officers represent and channel divine powers. It is part of a long chain of vehicles which has transmitted a divine knowledge to aspiring initiates who search for Apotheosis and the attainment of the Philosopher’s Stone. These initiates are aware that by themselves they may produce some minor effects, but with the aid of the Order they become able to create vertible Wonders.
It is only if you approach the Temple with reverence and true spiritual love and compassion that you can gain that sought after illumination. Show deep respect for the Adepts that has walked these steps before you. Show deep respect for its former teachers who has presented the teachings of the Tradition for your own benefit. For your own benefit, mind you!
Would any eastern brother scorn and ridicule its Master or teacher? Would a tantrika downplay on the achievements of previous Masters and teachers of his kaula (spiritual family)? Would a Buddhist show disrespect or spite towards the Boddishatvas? Would a Qabalist badmouth any of its long chain of Masters, or Tzadiks, such as Isaac Luria, Sabbathai Zvi, Nathan of Gaza or Jacob Frank? Why do you think a traditionalist Qabalist makes homage to these individuals whenever he mentions their name, in the same manner as a muslim gives honour to the prophet? Do you believe a Martinist would slander Martinez de Pasqually or Louis Claude de Saint-Martin? No? Why do you think? Because they were perfect Masters? Think again.
Now, I’m not admonishing anyone to feel reverence to S.L. MacGregor Mathers or to place him upon a pedestal. He is not a demi-god; he wasn’t a saint. What I’m saying is that we as initiates and Adepts should feel respect and gratitude to him, and other past teachers of our Sacred Order and Tradition, such as W.W. Westcott, J.W. Brodie-Innes or R.W. Felkin, and even Paul Foster Case and Dion Fortune. I happen to believe that MacGregor Mathers wasn’t that monster as some has tried to make us believe. I happen to believe that he was a good man and a great teacher, a dedicated person who did his very best to make each and everyone of us, who are heirs to his achievements, to gain communion with our God. However, this is not at all about canonisation.
Being initiates we belong to a family with ancestral roots that goes back to antiquity. The Golden Dawn is but the latest form that this entity or ancient egregore has taken in our modern era. We as initiates are part of that egregore. We have the duty to pass on the tourch, which has been passed on to us from our elder brethren and sisters, some of who are historically known and others are not. When we receive the torch we must aspire to leave it in a better condition that it was previously, when the time finally arrives to pass on the torch to further generations. We do not better our Tradition and perfect our Order’s teachings by badmouthing our predecessors, who did the very best that they could manage considering their resources and individual abilities. We do it by setting our own example by our own hard work in perfecting our own base nature. Through our hard work may we come to understand not only ourselves but also that mistress we call the Golden Dawn.
Why is this such a damn hard concept to understand in our post-modern era? This latest tendency amongst some outspoken authorities in the community is childish, to say the very least. It’s infantile and is filled with ugly projections. It smells awful of that old oidipean theme – that of killing your own father to acquire the Kingdom and its Queen. These individuals simply cannot accept the fact that they have to rest upon the shoulders of previous teachers’ achievements, even if they happen to be long since dead. This overly fixation on certain historical personages is an unhealthy sign, which is truly counterproductive.
Many of our previous Adepts, reformers and Chiefs weren’t that perfect and most illuminated individuals that we would hope them to be. We all know that. Probably only few numbers of them achieved that state that we long for as Adepts, to become more than human. Thus it’s easy to turn that initial idealization into literal demonisation. But as initiates we should know better than to succumb to such infantile urges; nothing necessitates this. There is no excuse for us as professed initiates to make ridicule of our ancestors, especially not in public arenas, just to attain scholarly peer recognition or to make greater sales of our books. Attain apotheosis for God’s sake (literary). Stop being scholars; start acting as true initiates and real Adepts instead.
Since writing this blog yours truly is no longer affiliated with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Outer Order of the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega® (H.O.G.D./A+O®). However, my general view on this subject stays firmly unchanged, as expressed in the above written text, and what I have authored previously on the Gyllene Gryningen blog still represents my overall opinion.