Fama Fraternitatis - 1614

Wiewohl wir nun wohl wissen, daß es umb ein ziemliches noch nicht an dem, da wieder unserm Verlangen oder auch anderer Hoffnung mit allgemeiner Reformation divini et humani, solle genug geschehen, ist es doch nicht unbillich, daß, ehe die Sonne auffgehet, sie zuvor ein HELL oder dunkel liecht in den Himmel bringt und unter dessen etliche wenige, die sich werden angeben, zusammen tretten, unsere Fraternitet mit der Zahl und Ansehen des gewünschten und von Fr.R.C. fürgeschriebenen Philosophischen Canons, einen glücklichen Anfang machen oder ja in unserer Schätz (die uns nimmermehr aufgehen können) mit uns in Demut und Liebe genießen die Mühsamkeit dieser Welt überzuckern und in den Wunderwerken Gottes nicht also blind umbgehen.

Vi vet dock att det enligt vår åstundan och andras förväntningar efter någon tid kommer en allmän reformation av både gudomliga och mänskliga ting. Ty innan solen går upp, upplyses himlen av
MORGONRODNADENS ljus. I väntan på denna reformation församlas några få som med sitt antal skall utöka vårt brödraskap, höja dess anseende och stärka dess förhoppningar och ge de av Fr.R.C. föreskrivna Filosofiska Canons en lycklig begynnelse. I all ödmjukhet och kärlek skall dessa nytillkomna tillsammans med oss dela våra skatter, som aldrig skall förgås, och så lindra denna världens möda och inte längre vandra ovetande om kunskapen om Guds underbara verk.

Howbeit we know after a time there will now be a general reformation, both of divine and humane things, according to our desire, and the expectation of others: for it is fitting, that before the rising of the Sun, there should appear and break forth AURORA, or some clearness, or divine light in the sky; and so in the mean time some few, which shall give their names, may joyn together, thereby to increase the number and respect of our Fraternity, and make a happy and wished for beginning of our Philosophical Canons, prescribed to us by our brother R.C. and be partakers with us of our treasures (which never can fail or be wasted) in all humility, and love to be eased of this worlds labor, and not walk so blindly in the knowledge of the wonderful works of God.


Det brittiska ordenssällskapet Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn och den tyska Frimurarlogen L'Aurore Naissante, vilket grundades i London 1888 respektive Frankfurt-am-Main 1807, delade på samma hebreiska namn Chevrah Zerach Bequr Aur, förevisat i gyllene gult vid bloggens huvud, vilket ordagrannt kan översättas till “Stigande Gryningsljusets Sällskap”. Denna tyska Rosenkorsiska Frimurarloge i Frankfurt, vilket måste anses vara det ursprungliga modertemplet till GOLDEN DAWN, kallade sig på tyska även Loge sur Aufgehenden Morgenröthe, vilket kan översättas till “Gryende Morgonrodnadens Loge”. Detta skiljer sig åt från den engelska seden att översätta orden Bequr Aur till “Golden Dawn” eller “Gyllene Gryningen”. Med anledning av Rosenkorstraditionens tyska ursprung är en mer korrekt översättning av Bequr Aur, genom franskans L'Aurore Naissante och tyskans Aufgehenden Morgenröthe, inget annat än GRYENDE MORGONRODNADEN. Denna hänvisning till ett stigande gryningsljus, morgonrodnad eller aurora är en klar hänvisning till den allmäna reformationen omnämnt i det ovan citerade stycket från Fama Fraternitatis. Denna blogg har dock valt att behålla den försvenskade anglo-saxiska termen GYLLENE GRYNINGEN för att denna, invand som den är, lättare associeras med den Rosenkorsiska tradition som här ämnas att framställas.

Licht, Leben, Liebe

tisdag 9 mars 2010

The Freemasonic origins of the Golden Dawn


Freemasonry forms an important part of the Golden Dawn tradition. The founders, Dr. William Wynn Westcott, Dr. William Robert Woodman and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, where all high ranking Master Freemasons. They were all also initiated into the Holy Royal Arch and belonged to several other Freemasonic Rites. They were also high ranking members of the freemasonic research lodge or Rosicrucian organisation called Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, or S.R.I.A. for short.

W.W. Westcott dressed up as the Supreme Magus of the S.R.I.A.

Their predecessors Kenneth MacKenzie (who wrote the Royal Masonic Cyclopedia), Fredrick Hockey and Adolphus F.A. Woodford, all had the same firm freemasonic foundation. And each and everyone of these English gentlemen somehow connected to the mysterious Cypher Mss. of the Golden Dawn. Therefore it is not strange that there is lots of evidence of freemasonic origins seen in the Golden Dawn tradition and its symbolism.

Looks familar? Actually this gentleman is not happy
because he
s the Hierophant of a Golden Dawn Temple
but instead
the First Principal of a Royal Arch Lodge

The ritual structure of each Grade follows exactly the one found in freemasonic lodges. Each Grade has its opening and closing, and admission or advancement ceremony in between. Even the traditional staff of seven officers has its direct equivalence in traditional Blue Lodge or Craft Masonry. This has all been clearly analysed by the Swedish scholar on esotericism and freemasonry, Henrik Bogdan, in his doctoral thesis From Darkness to Light: Western Esoteric Rituals of Initiation.

Sceptre heads of the three Principals of the Royal Arch

Although the majority of the Grade Ceremonies of the Golden Dawn are quite distinct as to the actual contents from all known freemasonic degrees, its Neophyte Grade still bears very strong marks and obvious similarities to the First Degree of Craft Freemasonry. It clearly shares a theme with the Apprentice Degree, the journey from darkness to light. In the consequent binding with the rope, hoodwinking, swearing of an obligation (with dire consequences if breached), the circumambulations performed, the threatening at sword point, the symbolic drawing of blood, etc., you will see a striking congruence here.

The three Principals of the Royal Arch armed with their Sceptres

Then there is the symbolism of the Neophyte Hall itself; the double cubical altar, the two Pillars – as in freemasonry often in the Golden Dawn referred to as Yachin and Boaz – the Dais with the Chiefs of the Temple, the preferred black and white tiled floor, the Quarters (points of the compass), etc. Considering this symbolism you will find that it all has freemasonic origin. Furthermore, you will find all of this symbolism summarized in the Trestle Boards of freemasonry. The Neophyte Hall of the Golden Dawn may bee seen as a three-dimensional “trestle board”, i.e. a place where the freemasonic symbolism takes a new and vivid life.

A Royal Arch Lodge

In short, I feel compelled to conclude that if freemasonry may be likened to a beautiful tapestry, then the Golden Dawn is what’s actually behind the Veil of the Sanctuary when it is finally rendered.

When you look beyond the three Craft Degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason, such as the Royal Arch, the Scottish Rite, the Swedenborgian Rite, Egyptian Freemasonry, the S.R.I.A., etc., you will find even more evidence of the cross-polonisation between the Golden Dawn and freemasonry. The Grade system is almost directly taken from the S.R.I.A., or rather its predecessor of the Gold und Rosenkreutz Orden, which also at the time of its existence regarded itself to be a high degree system of freemasonry. The structure of a First, Second and Third Order, and the title of Chief, Second and Third Adepts is directly borrowed from the S.R.I.A., as is also the prototype for the Vault of the Adepti.

A Royal Arch double-cubical altar

The use of Greek names for the Officers, such as Hierophant, Hegemon, Hiereus, etc., is taken from the Egyptian Freemasonic Rite of Misraïm. Another example is the robes, or ceremonial cloaks, and wand designs use by these said Officers, which are taken from the Royal Arch and to some extent from the S.R.I.A, although modified somewhat when it comes to colours, even though they are quite similar also in this respect. And this is where we will linger for a moment.

The Sceptre of the Supreme Magus of the S.R.I.A.

If you watch the Sceptre of the Supreme Magus, as held in the hands of W.W. Westcott in the previous black and white photograph, you will notice the awfully recognizable design of it. It may best be described as a cross-over between the Lotus Wand and Fire Wand of the Golden Dawn tradition. Somehow this sceptre from the S.R.I.A. became the model for these two wands of the Golden Dawn, to be vielded by the Lesser Adept.

The Lotus Wand of David Edwards
of the Order of the Cubic Stone

Furthermore, looking at the pictures taken from Royal Arch Freemasonry you will notice a striking similarity between two of these pictured sceptres and the ones used by the Hierophant and the Hegemon. These three peculiar designs belongs to the so-called three “principals” of the Royal Arch, the Officers or Chiefs jointly leading the Royal Arch Lodge. The crown-headed sceptre is associated with the First Principal, Zerubbabel or Prince of Jerusalem, dressed in red. The mithre-headed sceptre is associated with the Third Principal, Joshua or High Priest, donned in light blue. Lastly the Second Principal, Haggai or the Prophet, is given the sceptre headed by the all seeing eye, attired in a dark violet.

The Fire Wand of William Butler Yeats

While the crown-headed sceptre of Zerubbabel found its way into to the hands of the red cloaked Hierophant, who governs the Hall of the Neophytes with his Sceptre of Power, and as the mitre-headed sceptre of Joshua were seized by the white robed Hegemon, what then became of the sceptre of the all-seeing eye of Haggai? I believe the Second Principal is to be associated with the Hiereus (the second in command between the Hierophant and Hegemon) dressed in a black mantle, who now has been armed with the Sword to bar off any unwanted forces by the power of Geburah or Severity.

The Lamen of the Sentinel

This all seeing eye of God has its ancient origin in the Eye of Horus, and as a matter of fact the god-form of Horus is traditionally associated with the office of Hiereus. The symbol of the Eye itself found its way into the Sentinel’s Lamen, who in a way assists the Hiereus in keeping out any unwanted company from the Hall; he is the equivalent of the freemasonic Tyler.

The Sceptre of the First Principal of the Royal Arch

So it seems that the Holy Royal Arch forms a particular important source or inspiration for the Golden Dawn tradition, above all other freemasonic rites. This is also evidenced in the important side lecture written by S.L. MacGregor Mathers on the Twelve Signs and the Twelve Tribes of Israel, which is based upon the twelve banners of Royal Arch Freemasonry.

The Sceptre of the Third Principal

So it has been proven beyond any doubt that freemasonry and its symbolism makes an important part of the Temple symbolism of the Golden Dawn. When the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was formed in 1888 this connection wasn’t any where near a foreign concept as it is today, when many are trying their very best to separate them two apart. I would dare to say that the Golden Dawn was created within a freemasonic context considering the founding fathers of this tradition and the “up to your face” evidence contained in the symbolism of the Hall of Neophytes. Thus parts of the lineage of the Golden Dawn lies in freemasonic bodies such as the Royal Arch and the S.R.I.A.

Hierophant’s Sceptre
as drawn by
George Pollexfen

This connection between freemasonry and Rosicrucianism was even more intimate in 1777 as the Gold und Rosenkreutz Orden considered itself to be a direct extension of the Craft Degrees; to enter the Gold und Rosenkreutz you had to be a Master Mason. The Gold und Rosenkreutz considered freemasonry as an outer court to its own Order, and claimed that rosicrucians originally created freemasonry for this purpose in the 15th Century. This freemasonic requirement for membership was also the case with the S.R.I.A.

Hegemon’s Sceptre
as drawn by George Pollexfen

As the 1777 general reformation of the Gold und Rosenkreutz merged freemasonry with Rosicrucianism, the 1888 general reformation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn made them independent from each other, as now women were allowed to become initiates in the same fashion as in Egyptian Freemasonry. In my opinion the Neophyte Grade were added to the old Rosicrucian Grade system, which originally started at the level of Zelator or Juniorus, to compensate for the lack of the freemasonic degrees. As before freemasonic initiation into the Craft Degrees served as a preparation for admission into Zelator or Juniorus, now the Neophyte Grade served the same purpose. And remember the striking similarities pointed out between the Neophyte Grade, its symbolism of both ritual props and ceremony, and the First Degree of Entered Apprentice. This is clearly no coincidence.


10 kommentarer:

Peregrin sa...

Care Fr S.R.,

thanks for this essay. It seems strange that people would need reminding of the origins of the Golden Dawn as essentially an esoteric masonic offshoot, but they do.

Your essay explains it simply and well.

We should also not forget that essentially the same traditions were used in the creation of Wicca, as amply demonstrated by Ronald Hutton and others.

I know a GD adept who once gave a demonstration Neophyte Opening to his Masonic lodge. Of course he could not use his GD temple's props, but through the Blue Lodge, Royal Arch and S.I.R.A. he was able to work it all pretty much OK. This says a lot.

Thanks again, :)

Sincerus Renatus... sa...

In respons to my essay Morgan Drake Eckstein asks: "Who are these people trying to deny the connection between Freemasonry and Golden Dawn? Outside of Howe, I can't think of any serious attempts to do so.

"Of course, there are those of us who refuse to believe that a Master Mason is the equal of an Adept Minor. Those of us who refuse to answer to the Masons are simply stating that the systems have went separate ways long ago...and that is merely an administrative issue. We are not denying the connection, merely stating that just being a Master Mason grants you no special rights in our system.

"In fact, I think that it is safe to say that the connection between the two systems, if it has ever really been forgotten (or downplayed) has been rediscovered in recent years. If nothing else, my own interest in the Freemasons stems from my Golden Dawn involvements.

"The only thing I can think of is perhaps it is different in the circles that VH Frater SR walks in. Then again, it is probably is considering that our two circles have the promotional 'free in every box of cracker jack' land mine field separating them. We also have a pond separating us...oh, wait, that is an ocean."

Read my answer in the next comment.

Sincerus Renatus... sa...

My answer to Morgan Drake Eckstein:

The main motive behind my essay is that I have sensed the urge to deny the worth of freemasonry for the average G.D. member, and emphasis being laid on the differences between freemasonry and G.D., in the mouths of some modern Temple Leaders of good standing and other Adepts on the internet.

For example the denial of any lineage of worth from freemasonry for the G.D. I.e. that the founders of the G.D. only were initiates of Freemasonry and hence were "self-initiates" (or even "astral initiates") of the G.D. Even though I do belive the founding fathers of the G.D. had other and genuine Rosicrucian lineages predating the G.D. they still could draw some authority from their freemasonic standing alone. At least I don't believe this was as foreign idea as it is today.

If we are looking at the Rosicrucian currents of the 18th Century, you will find a REQUIREMENT of being a freemason to be even admitted for membership in a Rosicrucian circle.

However I agree that being a Master Mason doesn't make you a G.D. Adeptus Minor. But in my opinion it is the equivalent of being a Neophyte in the G.D. and equally authentic from a Rosicrucian viewpoint, at least if you do take consideration to classical Rosicrucian thought.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating in my essay regarding the tendencies of separation in the G.D. community, and I have also seen lately the tendencies of scholarly research into this field in certain G.D. circles. I of course don't question that most G.D. practitioners are aware of the historical connection, but I cannot help but feeling the need for ignoring the worth of freemasonry for the modern student in certain teachers of the G.D.

As you point out, there perhaps is a difference between the two sides of the "pond" which separates us. In Europe it is common that G.D. practitioners and Rosicrucians in general also are freemasons, especially in France and Italy, but also in Sweden. Like Morgan I was introduced to Freemasonry through the G.D. My sponsor in the Swedish Masonry was also my G.D. mentor.

Perhaps I also have warm sentiments about freemasonry because of the fact that I am a member of the Swedish system, which is known to be an "esoteric" rite and thus perhaps is a bit unique. The reformer of the Swedish rite, which later became the Swedish King Carl XIII, was a member of the Asiatic Brethren, E.L.U.D. (and some say) the Gold und Rosenkreutz. Original documents from all these Rosicrucian bodies reside in the Swedish Masonic Library in Stockholm.

So in my opinion, to be initiated into the Swedish system is as close as you will get today in receiving "lineage" or taking part of the "egregore" of these old continental Rosicrucian currents, as I doubt that any of these exist today in their original form.

A fact also worth taking into consideration is that freemasonry, contrary to most (if not all) Rosicrucian rites known today, represents an unbroken initiatic lineage of continuous Lodge work. Esoteric and Rosicrucian Orders come and go, but freemasonry remains. Thus it isn’t a recreation or revival as is the Golden Dawn. And therefore it presents a viable source of inspiration for modern G.D. Chiefs when it comes to learning and nurturing an “Order culture” of conduct. I personally have learnt a lot from being a member of the Swedish Freemasonic Order in this respect.

So my point is that freemasonry is very sympathetic to and harmonious with the Rosicrucian currents, and to the G.D. as well.

In my essay I took the liberty to take the other position in this argument over the G.D. and freemasonry connection, just to try to balance out the discussion. I tend to do that in discussions, sometimes just to get to know the other side of the argument even if I myself am uncertain or ambivalent in my own position.

In Licht, Leben und Liebe

Fr. A. sa...

Dear Fr S.R.,

One could argue that the cross-seminisation of "Tradition" in its Philosophical and Theological sense; between the Asiatic Brethren and the Frankists... that there may persist a fairly valid lineal descent of this Tradition in certain manifestations of Frankism/Sabbateanism.

Note that Katz, who had access to marvelous sources refers to the Frankists as providing a "Transmission". Also see his inferences to its loss.


Fr. A. sa...

Care Fr. S.R.,

Along these same lines I would oint out that in Peter Beer's (Prague Frankist from Rabbinic family Beer) tome on Secret Kabbalistic Societies is the only reference to Hirschfeld's text explaining the Syncretic Kabbalah incorporated into the Asiatic Brethren until G.Scholem brought attention to the book. Beer states:

"The Heirophant, in these letters to his apprentice on a biblical organon does bring attention to what he most highly recommends to him. The full title of this work is: "Biblical Organon, or real translation of the Bible with mystic chords of E, J and P. Hirschfeld. Offenbach 1796".

It is most interesting to see the term Heirophant used by Peter Beer, there are many such references...

Not to mention that there are other sources that indicate the Frankists often held "Passes" which were coins or medals carrying certain Letters of Holy Writ... one of them corresponding to Dobruska. These allowed one entrance into certain places, etc.

There are also examples in Frankist Scripture where some of the concepts of the Asiatic Brethren are included in Scripture as well.


Sincerus Renatus... sa...

Care V.H. Fra. A.M.,

Thank's for the references. I suppose this somehow relates to the subject matter ;-)

Could you elaborate this in relation to Freemasonry, besides the fact tha the Asiatic Brethren are regarded to be a Freemasonic Rite in the same manner as the Gold und Rosenkreutz and S.R.I.A.?

In Licht, Leben und Liebe

Sincerus Renatus... sa...

There has lately been suggested that the office of Past-Hierophant could be dropped in a Temple, just becaus it has origins in the freemasonic habit of using past masters in a lodge.

Well, all 7 floor Officers of the Golden Dawn has a origin in the Blue Lodge system as well. You cannot disregard something in the G.D. just because it has a freemasonic origin. If you took away all freemasonic origins and influences, what would be left in a G.D. Temple?

IMO the G.D. forms a part of the so-called "esoteric" branch of freemasonry, such as Egyptian Freemasonry, the Gold- und Rosenkreutz, Asiatic Brethren, African Architects, S.R.I.A., the Rites of Misraim, Memphis, and Memphis & Misraim, etc.

Although the G.D. is the branch least dependent upon freemasonry, there clearly is a link not to be underestimated. Freemasons themselves regard the G.D. as "fringe" masonic.

In Licht, Leben und Liebe


Sincerus Renatus... sa...

A Frater asked if there is any benefit from cross membership between freemasonry and the Golden Dawn.

I believe it differs between Lodges if they cand offer a G.D. initiate anything of value, besides fraternisation. I would recommend either a Scottish Lodge or a Royal Arch Lodge, the former because it is somewhat regarded as "esoteric" or "hermetic" compared to Blue Lodge (Craft Masonry), playing with some Rosicrucian motifs, the latter because lots of that particular Rite has spilled over into the creation of the Golden Dawn tradition.

I believe some Lodges are more freespoken when it comes to discussion of the Western Mysteries, while others are relatively unaware of anything esoteric. I believe there are local variations even within the same Rite.

A good working lodge would at least give the G.D. initiate some directions in how to properly perform rituals, i.e. how to perform them physically. Freemasons generally know how to create atmosphere and sonority. Belonging to a lodge will also learn the G.D. initite basics of Order etiquette, which also should spill over to a G.D. Temple.

If one is historically inclined freemasonry has lot to offer a G.D. initate. As I have pointed out before, lots comes from that direction in the creation of most hermetic societies, the Golden Dawn included. One may play with the though of stripping of the Golden Dawn tradition of all of its freemasonic influences and connections, how much would then remain? Being a freemason will make the G.D. initiate aware of how much the G.D. is in debt to freemasonry.

But besides this, one shouldn't expect to learn that much about Qabalah and Hermeticism. One may of course learn lots about freemasonic symbolism, which also somewhat spills over to the Golden Dawn. Personally I regard freemasonry, also the Blue Lodge variaty, to be part of the Western Mystery Tradition. A Adept of the Golden Dawn should be well versed in freemasonic symbology, which revolves a lot around the mystical interpretation of the Temple of Solomo and the building of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Being a freemason won't contradict anything a initiate already is learning in the Golden Dawn. On the contrary, he might see the Golden Dawn in a somewhat different light because of it. There are even direct references to freemasonic symbology in the G.D. documentation, such as the 12 Tribes of Israel in relation to the Shew Bread diagram, etc. That particular (and important) document almost presupposes the reader being a Freemason.

In Licht, Leben und Liebe

Sincerus Renatus... sa...

Morgan Drake Eckstein have commented on the question of benefit of cross-membership between freemasonry and the Golden Dawn. Based on his experience he found no benefits at all. He also chritizies G.D. group for requiring membership in a freemasonic lodge to be admitted to the Second Order. My answer to this is the following:

The idea of requiring membership in Freemasonry to recive dispensation for advancement is a serious breach of the hallmarks of the Golden Dawn and also in violation to the obligation of the Adeptus Minor which prevents exclusion of Women.

The Golden Dawn has its Neophyte Ceremony to serve as a substitute for the Craft Degrees. And a very good substitute it is.

However I do recommend my male students to become Freemasons. But reading Morgan's and other American's experiences of Freemasonry I must conclude that the situation is very much different in Swedish Fremasonry, which has a more professed esoteric origin in German Rosicrucianism. Many Swedish Golden Dawn practitioners are also active and dedicated freemasons in the Swedish Freemasonic Order.

Obviously them, as well as I, feels that there is much to gain from this kind of cross-membership. While freemasonry lacks the inner or subtle content that we are experienced with, they do have lot to learn Officers of the G.D. in outer ritual performance; i.e. the sense of ritual drama ans sonority which is not to be underestimated. In my order I was recommended to join the Swedish Freemasons from this reason alone.

Another good reason is the scholarly one, as it is a well known fact that the Swedish Freemasonic Library is rich on old continental Rosicrucian documents. In this respect Swedish Freemasonry is regarded as a parantal organization as it is able to provide with certain esoteric transmissions.

So unfortunately I see that I and my fellow American brothers are not living under the same conditions when we go to Lodge on our respective sides of the "pond".

In Licht, Leben und Liebe

Greg Stewart sa...

An interesting post. I'm glad I found my way into it.