What, ME practice the Golden Dawn?

ctAfter viewing my Facebook profile several people have asked me why I am listed as ‘Tibetan Buddhist’ and have I given up the Western Traditions?

The answer to the second question is, no. The first answer can be found searching recent blogs on the Golden Dawn (or clicking here). Even a quick review of the results will show why I cannot stomach being associated with this community. Of course, at this point any reader on the side of the various GD ‘factions’ will be nodding their head and think I am speaking about the others.

While still moved, held, blessed and loved by the Golden Dawn, as I always will be, I am increasingly having to admit its failure as public spiritual path. Let me be a little clearer on this.

The historical Golden Dawn came into being as heir and holder, through inspiration and inner contacts if not charters or commissions, of several strands of the western esoteric tradition. The Golden Dawn / RR et AC “system” of spiritual development, even the published version, is beautiful and potent beyond measure, a gift from the One for the redemption of our souls. The outer organisational form and structure that held this powerful tradition soon split under the pressure, just as the outer ego or lower self would split from receiving an Adeptus Minor initiation too early. The reasons for this failure are many, including the personalities involved, but I suspect the main reason is the failure to adhere to traditional Lodge structures of leadership and power.

In any case the tradition thereafter splintered into many parts. As I have mentioned before, one of these parts quickly recovered and held the authentic tradition within a more robust ‘container’. They are what I consider the real Golden Dawn and are to be contrasted with the other forms which were characterised by two main traits: the explicit or implicit rejection of the demands of Christianity and public revelation. These two traits have become more pronounced over the years since 1903, so much so that we now have online Golden Dawn courses open to all comers and such oddities as the Thelemic Golden Dawn.

The various Golden Dawn blogs, websites and forums that so distress me are the result of people whom I sure started out with healthy motivations. After all no one has any ambition at the start of their spiritual quest to eventually evolve into a leader of an international Order who throws slander around with as much gusto and glee of a pissed-off orangutan chucking his faeces at rivals. So how does this happen? The main purpose of the Outer Order (the Golden Dawn) is to balance the candidate so they are harmonious and able to move towards surrendering their ego in the Inner Order. Virtually all of the material I find offensive, childish and just plain silly is written by Inner Order Adepti. How is this possible? Why has the transformation of the ego not occurred?

The tradition itself is not deficient – of that I am sure. I have felt and been transformed by its grace and beauty. I have seen people within secret Orders slowly, over the years changed and transported from self-focus and limited views to unfolded paragons of love and compassion.

I am therefore led to conclude that there is something deficient or skewing the spiritual transformation within the various public Orders. And the only thing I can see that all share, besides the traditional rituals and practices (which work), is that fact that they are public. Is there a clue in this? Certainly , the original Golden Dawn was fostered and birthed in an era of secrecy, following the lodge tradition. Maybe the tradition simply cannot be practiced in an open milieu? It definitely, to my mind cannot be practiced with innovations, created solely by public Orders, such as astral or self initiation.

These are open questions. I do not know the answers. But I could not, at this time, with honesty recommend any public Golden Dawn Order to some seeking spiritual unfoldment. If you have answers or suggestions, please post a comment, though I respect your right to reply to me privately. Thanks. 🙂



  1. wandering mystic · April 6, 2009

    The problem isn’t that they are public. The problem is that they are all businesses. There is so much ego associated with being in the Golden Dawn due to its historical place. People want to reach the top at all costs so that they too can put VH and GH in front of their names.

    Many orders are happy to help them get to the top as long as that top doesn’t mean THEY will replace the OWNERS of these Golden Dawn groups. As a consequence, not enough alchemical transformation occurs for many folks who hit the inner order. Many Golden Dawn heads also skip doing the work after a certain stage. They are too busy building an order and recruiting members.

  2. Peregrin · April 6, 2009

    Hi Wandering Mystic,

    thank you for this comment. Yes, indeed the business angle is something that i have not considered too much in this analysis. The commercialisation of spirituality is always going to be a problem 😦

  3. Sincerus Renatus · April 7, 2009

    Care Frater,

    I undestand your sentiments, and to an extent agree. I remember when I entered the Order I belong to (which today is one of these organizations which you describe), when it was a totally secret affair. I stumbled on it just by “chance”. In these days you couldn’t find it on the web, nor apply through a e-mail, etc. But the strenght that this secrecy gave to the egregore was unbelievable! The original secrecy was imperative for what was to come.

    I also agree with Wandering Mystic that it’s not the public appearance per se that is damaging but commersialism, toghther with competition (the one cannot be without the other). Compare for example with Freemasonry. It’s of course not commercial, but has always been public (more or less). That system works nonethless. This same principle can be applied to the Golden Dawn community.

    I envision a future for the G.D. which resembles the Freemasonic Society as a whole. Mutual recognition between jurisdictions. On some instances no recognition but at least indifference, i.e. no open competion. Look for example in France where you will find lodges belonging both to the Grand Orient (not recognized by UGLE) and the Grande Loge Nationale Française (which is recognized by the UGLE). Still they don’t bother each other. This should be and example for the whole Golden Dawn community.


  4. Peregrin · April 7, 2009

    Care Frater,

    thank you for this comment and words of Wisdom. I like the vision you describe. I hope it comes to pass. Having not been a member of one of the larger public/commercial groups I do not know how much they follow the traditional lodge structure and etiquette of Brotherhood. I know most contemporary and historical Australian groups have not been Orders in the true sense. For the vision you describe to come about I think the Lodge structure needs to be followed to allow Fraternity to prevail. Thanks 🙂

  5. Barthimaeus · April 7, 2009

    Hi Peregrin,

    I really enjoyed this post because it forced me to think. However I disagree on many points. For one thing, certainly not all public groups “reject the demands of Christianity”, as you write. Maybe you have a very specific demand in mind.

    Also, I’m sure you are familiar with the common practice of the original order to actively recruit members from masonic circles and the Theosophical Society. I am sure some GD members found it objectionable at the time for their leaders to proselytize in that manner. And what about Mathers’ public performance at the world fair in Paris? My point is that I believe there has always been a struggle between keeping things secret and to spread the word.

    Maybe it would be useful to see the GD in its entirety as a bootstrap for the much older and larger tradition, adapted to custom and culture of late 19th century England. Today, the radically different custom and virtually global culture of the early 21st century provides a very different milieu for orders to operate within. And so you find each order adapting to the culture it sees itself as being part of. This is in part what caused the situation you describe.

    Lastly I agree with the good Sincerus Renatus about competition between groups. The entrenched turf wars between different orders are what killed the spirit of truth! I believe it’s time to end this entrenchment. We have lots to learn from each other.

    Bart H.

  6. Peregrin · April 7, 2009

    Dear Bart,

    thank you for your comment and disagreement 🙂

    As i said, these are open questions for me and I am very gratified to have the responses I have here from you and others.

    The demands of Christianity: well, outwardly there is of course the belief that Christianity is the New and Everlasting Covenant – that it is not one of many paths, but THE best path. I was more thinking however, of what I have mentioned previously. Through the Incarnation the whole of humanity was Redeemed, and Christianity is a corporate religion – as beautifully summed up by the Rev. King to our right and up a bit.

    GD Magic these days is very focused on self development, witness the advertising style and techniques of at least two of the main international Orders. Christianity demands that we give up the self focus.

    Great point about the tension between secrecy and visibility! I think you sum it up well though – people were approached individually, as they still are by the older Orders (not just GD) I know. Mathers himself, I believe, cracked a little under the strain of helping to birth the Order. This does not justify any actions, but I do think it puts them into context of non-traditional.

    Another great point re adapting to the time and culture! Thank you. I think there has to be adaptation, yes. However, and i think you agree with me, it seems in some circumstances this adaptation has been directed by individual egos and profit motive (which may not be solely monetary).

    Yes, it will great to end the ‘turf wars’ as you describe them. Being isolated in a small traditional Order in Perth, Australia, I have no background how they started.

    I do know they have cluttered up the Net and any searches on our tradition finds them fast. So, without taking any sides, I do like the idea of David Griffin’s that a first step should be to completely remove ALL flame, attacking, offensive posts/sites NO MATTER WHO put them up. Get rid of it ALL from ALL SIDES, so at least newcomers and seekers can see what our tradition is really about: love, service and light.


  7. Barthimaeus · April 7, 2009

    Hi again Peregrin,

    good point about approaching people individually back in the days. They did however place ads in newspapers as well (though I admit they were slightly veiled) I remember seeing one reproduced in a book, maybe it is in the GD scrapbook or in the Sword of Wisdom.

    The development you speak of towards more advertisement is probably more ego driven than monetary, at least if I had to choose between the two. There is very little money to be made in the GD and very few would be able to charge any kind of money for GD related services even if they wanted to!

    Again I hold the turf wars responsible. The competition between orders has at times led leaders to become more focused on the number of members than the quality of their teachings. I would hope however that in the future we see more advertisement that shows the virtue of GD studies in general, rather than focusing on the rather minimal differences between groups. The message that we send out ought to be “come check out the GD tradition” and not, as we have often seen, “my GD is stronger than yours”.

    I really wish David Griffins proposal to be genuine. I really do. However it is not the first time an end to mudslinging has been proposed and there is a lot of distrust – and sanctimonious rhetoric – from ALL interested parties. At the end of the day I don’t believe a truce can ever be made in public, but rather in private reconciliatory conversation between a handful of individuals. But I remain hopeful!

    Thanks again for your blog. Keep sharing your thoughts…

    Bart H.

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