In 1911 S.L. Macgregor Mathers, one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, lost a court case to prevent Aleister Crowley publishing a secret ritual of the Order. Most historians agree that the main reason Mathers lost was his refusal to take credit for the authorship of the rituals in question. He maintained, within his Order and now within court, that they were ‘traditional rituals’ handed down through the centuries. Most historians however, are also convinced that Mathers did in fact write them, or at least wrote them down on the instructions of inner plane beings.
By his refusal to take credit for the authorship of the rituals, Mathers was very rightly seeing them as something beyond ordinary literature. He made a stance as to their worth and power. These days much of the corpus of the Golden Dawn tradition is published and forms the bedrock and foundation stone for pretty much all Western magic and magical Pagan practice. Few people who download the rituals or buy a new Golden Dawn book think much of the actual origins of the rituals and processes.The Golden Dawn tradition built upon much of the existing Western tradition but also contained much that was new and original. The question I would like to pose here is this: if the core of the techniques of Western magic were indeed ‘given’ to humanity by inner plane beings, what motivation did those beings have? Why would they have communicated, for days and weeks on end with the Mathers’ to provide the Golden Dawn with this information?
That the information has definite spiritual value is uncontested by most people who have ever practiced the GD. So we can rule out a mere whim or an impulse on behalf of the inner plane beings. Indeed over the years of reception of this secret wisdom, there is a very evident and structured system; information given in the early years fitting in harmoniously with material received in the latter years.
So, a magical system of immense power and beauty is bequeathed to a couple of distinctly odd people at the fag end of the Victorian Era. Why? The Golden Dawn itself gives us the answer. Its Equinox Ceremony states clearly that each soul must express love towards ‘God humanity and the universe’. The purpose of the Golden Dawn is to help the soul do exactly this. The active expression of love is what I understand as service. Just as in love we focus not only upon ourselves, so too in service we are moved beyond ourselves and called into action to redress the imbalance in the world.
If what I am saying here is correct, then every performance of the Lesser Pentagram, every Wiccan circle (which owes a great deal to the Golden Dawn) and every energising and blissy Middle Pillar performed today comes with an invisible rider. These ceremonies and rituals were created and delivered by inner plane beings with the expectation and desire that they would help fit the soul for service. If we practice Golden Dawn rituals and processes, which underlie most of modern magic we must be very careful. Being crafted as a means of changing us for service, we cannot safely use them without being open to being used ourselves, as agents for justice.
I suspect the high level of emotional and spiritual pathology in the western esoteric community stems in part from unwise or ignorant usage of techniques and traditions, like the Golden Dawn, in ways they were never meant to be used.