The Perth Golden Dawn order which I am blessed to help hold on the physical level is about to become active and outward once more. This will happen at the Equinox in March. We’ve already compiled a little guide booklet, ‘Light in Extension‘ available from the Western Mysteries website.
It was recently pointed out to me by an initiate of the Order that our re-emergence, so to speak, will fall on the 120th anniversary of the birth of the original Golden Dawn. The number of the Golden Dawn current (in the Outer) being 120, this is a very cool coincidence. Not that it helps squash the nerves and qualms I always have about being more outward than inward. While I enjoy teaching and holding lodge office, I always struggle when making our Order available to the public.
One part of this struggle lies with my awareness that the traditional Golden Dawn model is only the outer form of a deep and timeless mystery; its form needs constant refinement and change and I wonder if our little Order is completely up to the task. I have no doubt we practice the Golden Dawn tradition – as it stands – the way it should be. Indeed we work the system fully and wonderfully with all the unpublished inner workings essential for spiritual regeneration.
However, for me the essence, the wonder and beauty of the Golden Dawn lies not in its rituals, its techniques, initiations or teachings. Rather, it is the esoteric approach taken by the initial Order way back in 1888. Here I am reminded of the much maligned Aidan Kelly in ‘Crafting the Art of Magic’ when writing about Gerald Gardner and modern Witchcraft. Kelly asserts that the only way modern witches can follow in Gardner’s footsteps is to be as creative as he was, not to slavishly follow his work, but create a religion that suits their own personal needs, as Gardner (re)created Wicca to suit his own sexual needs.
Now of course, there is a great deal wrong with these sentiments: as soon as we let our personal needs (especially sexual needs, which are often complex) dictate our spirituality we are by definition and practice hampering ourselves from experiencing the esoteric, the occult, the hidden, which is transpersonal in nature. But the principle is valid – the only way we can authentically practice Golden Dawn spirituality is by engaging in the same daring paradigm shifts that the original GD did, not by simply following a ‘tradition’. Indeed I would argue that the ‘true’ Golden Dawn tradition is more concerned with recreation and reinvention of the esoteric than any set path. This ‘perennial’ Golden Dawn is constantly re-birthing, remaking itself, directed not by the needs of individuals or individual Orders, but from the Inner Plane contacts and Masters that hold the unformed Order itself.
In the Victorian era the Golden Dawn instituted radical shifts, such as the inclusion of women, the concept and practice of the Sphere of Sensation, the brilliant and bold use the Tree of Life as an underlying matrix, the linking of private and lodge practice through concepts like the Z Formula, a standard set of invocatory techniques and an expanded version of the Qabalistic soul that allowed practical changes. Any one of these would have marked the Golden Dawn as unique. The combination, and a whole lot more, produced a new magical spirituality, the potential of which is seldom enacted even today.
All of these things are these days accepted, used, misused and abused the magical world over. And despite pronouncements, beginning with a zonked-out channelling session by Aleister Crowley in 1904, that the GD has had its day, nothing has effectively replaced it. A quick look on the Net at the plethora of OTO and Crowleyan copy-cats producing ‘divinely-inspired’ works, often called (after Crowley), “Liber … Baduss Latinus” will illustrate this clearly. This is because, like Crowley most of the revisions of the Golden Dawn have come from people, from human egos not from the Inner Plane beings who guide and hold it.
In our Order we are trying to be open to inner plane guidance as we practice the authentic tradition. Some elements, I think we have and are explained a bit in our Light in Extension booklet: the feminine, the Land, mystical-personal connection with Divinity, transformation through service, the body, the Underworld. Other elements I know we will have missed. While I do not expect any dramatic outwards changes to the Golden Dawn ‘system’, already our focus on the Land and Service has caused some people to raise their eyebrows. So be it.
One day when I have time I will write a much longer piece showing that the seeds of change any authentic esoteric tradition enacts are to be found deep within itself from the very start. With the benefit of hindsight we can see in the Rosicrucian, Renaissance and ancient Hermetic traditions esoteric seeds that flowered in the Golden Dawn. The seeds our Order are bringing to flower are, I am sure, but a small part of what needs to occur. I hope come March, as we begin active magical work again, we are directed to uncover more seeds of transformation and that we have the courage to enact them. Then we can be part of that constant Perennial Golden Dawn which is the heart of our tradition.