On the inevitability of diversity (but not schism)

Back when I was a  youth first getting a handle on this magic lark, I had a vision. Well more of a fantasy really. Riding home on my scooter from a Pagan social gathering of many covens, I imagined a similar situation for my beloved Golden Dawn. I envisioned a time where there would be several (or many) different outer Golden Dawn temples in Perth, each approaching the tradition differently, even quite differently. However, there would be a single inner RR et AC College, where adepts would come to serve and deepen in the Rosicrucian magical tradition.

The other day I was reminded of this fantasy by the words on the Ba Iset Order of the Rosy Cross blog describing their Order: “Golden Dawn based in the Outer; Global Rosicrucian in the Inner”. I love the ‘Global Rosicrucian’ phrase, and while I have no idea if my reading of it is what BIORC means, it sounds like what I envisioned.

Though I was not consciously aware of it at the time, my fantasy-vision was based on the esoteric principles inherent in the GD and RR et AC. The outer order is concerned with balancing the personality, and the inner with the use of the balanced personality by the deeper self and the One. Outer order experiences can therefore be quite different for folk, though often following a broad theme. The inner order experience, in the Golden Dawn at least, centres around magic.

The aim of magic is to become ourselves, and yet in doing so we lose ourselves. We become more deeply a person with unique and strong characteristics, but these are subservient to our connection and service to the One. Metaphorically the light of Goddess / God / the One is shone down and focused through the lens of our personality (which is cleaned and purified by the Outer work). In this way the Light of the One reaches the earth unhindered and focused and magnified – which is why the Magnificat talks about Mary’s soul ‘magnifying’ the Lord.

Each of the various magical initiatory streams, through their practices and blessings serve to bring a person towards being more themselves, more real, more solid and present in the material world. So the various GD Orders imagined in my little fantasy would be serving the same ends, though by different outer means. At the same time however, the final aim is more inner than outer. It’s all in these words from the GD Equinox ceremony (or is it MR? AO? SM? – someone please correct me, as some folk are so concerned we get the right initials):

Fratres et Sorores of the Order, seeing that the whole intention of the Lower Mysteries, or of external initiation, is by the intervention of the Symbol, Ceremonial, and Sacrament, so to lead the Soul that it may be withdrawn from the attraction of matter and delivered from the absorption therein, whereby it walks in somnambulism, knowing not whence it cometh nor whither it goeth; and seeing also, that thus withdrawn, the Soul by true direction must be brought to study of Divine Things, that it may offer the only clean Oblation and acceptable sacrifice, which is Love expressed towards God, Man and the Universe. Now, therefore, I confess and testify thereto, from my Throne in this Temple, and I promise, so far as in me lies, to lead you by the Rites of this Order, faithfully conserved, and exhibited with becoming reverence, that through such love and such sacrifice, you may be prepared in due time for the greater Mysteries, the Supreme and inward Initiation.

…the Supreme and inward initiation 🙂 Doesn’t that make you smile? 🙂

Now each of us is different and a unique form of the One. So we will experience our magic in different ways. This is why RR et AC  magic is more akin to exegesis than literal interpretation; we make our own magic by personal interaction with the tradition. It is why the RR et AC and other streams teach us by formulae, not complete unchanging rituals – we are to create new forms, new magic, new rituals. This is very important, as it enacts the mystical connection of the self and personality, the inner and the outer.

Sometimes, once we are connected to the inner and circling that ol’ “Supreme and inward Initiation”, we are directed and called upon to act in the outer in a different way to those around us. This is one reason why, after a certain period of unfoldment some folk are ‘moved out’ or have to leave their mother-lodge. As they become more themselves, they are directed by the inner to work with different symbols, themes, beings, motifs and mysteries. Sometimes, if they are unlucky bastards, the inner tells them to start a group to do all this.

Now a sensible mother-Order rejoices (or at least accepts the inevitable) when this happens, even if it means losing one of their best initiates. Apparently Dion Fortune did this when W.E. Butler started being the receptacle for a different set of inner contacts than the ones currently directing the Fraternity of the Inner Light. Elsewhere Dion writes about the need to give senior members their own tasks and duties to guide junior members, and so avoid any ‘stagnation’ of the ‘magnetism’ they have received from their initiations and practices. As they have received, so too they must pass on, to keep all in flow. Dion asserts this practice helped avoid any schisms in the Fraternity. I am not sure if there have been actual schisms following Dion’s death, but if there have they have kept their dirty washing away from the public eye far better than many GD groups 🙂

So, one form of ordered and healthy expansion of the magical tradition occurs via senior folk gaining a new commission from the inner and going off to form their own outer expression of the mysteries – hopefully at the same time remaining on the Christmas card list of the mother-Order’s leader(s). Really, a good Order would recognise this and even ‘charter’ the departing initiate(s). This is a wonderful thing as it reflects an eternal truth – diversity on the outer, unity on the inner.

Less wonderful is ‘expansion’ via schism which often occurs when senior folk have inner directions to form new outer forms but are not given blessing and support to do so. This has happened far too many times in the Golden Dawn for anyone to feel happy about. Another problem is when a senior initiate is persuaded or chooses to stay within a mother lodge, despite inner promptings, because they are waiting to receive promised ‘higher teachings’ and knowledge. To ignore inner directions for these reasons is very harmful. The senior initiate’s connection will be hampered, and at the same time the presence of new or differently formed currents and contacts, seeking to be earthed, will be introduced into the mother-lodges’ egregore. A messy situation indeed.

Now, since the greater mysteries, or Inner Order work is more concerned with inner experience (contained within the principles of the Rosicrucian tradition) there is a great wealth of wisdom to be gained from the inner itself, regardless of putative ‘higher’ or third Order teachings.

Recently a Facebook friend of mine wrote some beautiful words on this theme. After a certain time of unfoldment, specific spiritual and magical teachings become simply a framework and starting place for further deepening, guided by the inner. Adepthood is where there is no leaning on outer Orders, groups, teachings or masters. While all of these things assist and aid our service and unfoldment, they are simply there to assist our unfoldment not direct or constrain it.

In the GD tradition this is the stage of the completed Adeptus Minor. As I write in By Names and Images:

The Adept connects with the deeper objective forces of Yetzira, symbolised by the full elemental powers, the planets, the Sephiroth and the Zodiac. She learns to navigate and move into the various realms of Yetzira at will. By doing so she is able to connect with and draw down all the powers and blessings she needs in order to re-make her personality self and to promote healing and spiritual growth in others. She also has the ongoing expanded awareness of the Higher and Divine Genius and is more and more able to obtain whatever magical or spiritual instruction she requires without reference to an outside human agency. However, she may often choose to maintain a connection with the physical Order so as to work in harmony with other Adepts in their service to humanity.

The centrality of the grade within the whole schema of unfoldment reflects the centrality of the associated Sephira, Tiphareth on the Tree of Life. All is expressed and combined, reflected and distilled through Tiphareth, which connects to the Utmost via Gimel. This is why, when functioning fully at this grade, there is no need for external teachers. It is also one reason why, I think, when discussing the teachings at higher grades, Nick Farrell says: ” Any new information automatically categorises itself at the 5=6. If it is a system, new or not, it is by its very nature 5=6.”

This is not to say, of course, that there are not wonderful and deep teachings at the ‘higher levels’ – there are certainly some by now, though I am not sure how true that was historically. However, these teachings must be integrated and infused into one’s own individual communion between outer and inner, lower and higher, personality and self, circle and point. The Adeptus Minor can commune with the inner, receive all they need from the inner, so outward teachings from any external ‘higher’ sources or orders are secondary to their mystical Conversation – put simply, they are not needed. Waiting for external, ‘higher’ teachings when one is connected to the inner, and able to be held and guided by the inner (as will happen with the right motivation) misses the whole mystery of the Adept grade in the first place. Right-ho? 🙂



  1. Reminds me a bit of a Van Morrison song.. ‘No teacher, no guru, no method’ .. I suspect that Van may be an initiate himself of the R.C mysteries. Cheers.

  2. Gareth Knight · May 21, 2012

    Couldn’t agree more. This very much reflects my own experience. In and out of groups. All, rightly understood, approached and served, are reflections or facets or expressions of the One.
    Gareth Knight

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  4. Frater Mr. Ed · May 22, 2012

    “The outer order is concerned with balancing the personality”

    If that is what it is supposed to be doing I think something has gone terribly terribly wrong with the system. You ought ta check in with your chiefs to discover where the thing went all cattywampus.

  5. Peregrin · May 22, 2012

    Hi Lenny – yes, well I think Van Morrison has explored many things. I think I remember reading about his consultation or knowing a Rosicrucian ‘master’. In some of his songs his expression of mystical connection with Christ really moves me 🙂

  6. Peregrin · May 22, 2012

    Hello Gareth, thank you for your presence and comments here. They are very much appreciated. 🙂

  7. Peregrin · May 22, 2012

    Hello Mr Ed, well, I have no chiefs… but we take the point. A lot more smoke than heat as been produced by the GD over the years. That however does not detract from the system itself. Modern folk are working to improve the ratio of sane magicians to nutters 🙂 Also, the vast majority of sensible and well balanced people do not even make it known beyond a small circle they are involved. So we are judging from a limited ‘public’ pool. thanks 🙂

  8. Mike Howard · May 22, 2012

    Afraid I don’t have anything profound to offer about this excellent posting, but the photograph of that lovely man Ernest Butler jogged some pleasant memories of the old days. I first met Ernest when he invited me to visit him and his wife at their home in Hampshire. They lived in an archetypal thatched cottage with roses around the door.He was a very ‘priestly’ and had quite a ‘saintly’ aura, but was also a powerful magician. Unfortunately he suffered ill-health in his later years but he endured it with fortitude and courage.

    In the style of 1950s’ McCarthayism, I have to say that I am not and never been a member of any GD group and my magical path lies elsewhere. However like many of my generation who came into
    occultism in the 1960s it fascinates me. and I’ve read widely on the subject.Only recently I discovered that there was a link between the GD and the Order of the Morning Star I joined in 1967. Also in my time I met people connected with the GD such as Tamara Bourkon and elderly members of the pre-war Fraternity of the Inner Light.

  9. Peregrin · May 22, 2012

    Hi Mike,

    profound or not, your comments are always welcome here 🙂

    It is great to have folk like you and Gareth Knight commenting on MOTO – lends it some lineage and history. 🙂 I have heard many good things about Ernest Butler…

    I first heard about possible loose GD links between Madeline Montalban and the OMS years back through an old friend of yours, Julia Philips. For the life of me, I can’t quite recall what she had to say though!

    Such history… not to be too cheeky Mike, but have you thought of taking a leaf from Gareth’s book and penning a great, big magical-Witchy biography? 🙂 🙂

  10. Frater Mr. Ed · May 23, 2012

    Ahh yes, the mythical silent majority of the golden dawn. The well balanced sane ones who don’t write books or blogs or run orders.

    I am judging by your own words so you can drop your limited-pool song and dance routine, thanks. You made the obviously false claim that “The outer order is concerned with balancing the personality, and the inner with the use of the balanced personality by the deeper self and the One.” You would be better off claiming something that you adepti can actually demonstrate.

    Your two opposing GD factions are mirror images of one another, sharing the need to inflate the golden dawn image into more than it ever was. It is a deeply flawed system. A problem already recognized a century ago by some of its alumni.

    Yes, you have no chiefs. How much overdone drama might have been avoided over the years had Westcott and Mathers just admitted that right from the start. So it’s just you– leading seekers to the light by the power of your own well balanced adept personality. It’s a wonder you manage to stay so, uhh, humble. Good luck!

  11. Darpan Gondlir · May 24, 2012

    Thank you for this post Peregrin. And your book.

    Just as ‘Frater mr Ed’ expresses I have had my doubts about the validity of Magick as a spiritual path. You can read my ‘Cry for the Adepts, is magick as a spiritual path a failure?’ here: http://darpangondlir.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/cry-for-the-adepts-is-magick-as-a-spiritual-path-a-failure-2/

    The fact is that, within the public domain there is hardly any evidence that shows that magick as a spiritual path actually produces the Adepts it promises. I have not yet met in person a true Adept, Ascended master or Secret Chief, so they remain mythical promises. Are we pursuing a carrot on a stick?

    Well, despite the visible evidence, my heart tells me that magick approached from an honest perspective, with integrity and devotion, can be a wonderful way to express and live a magickal and spiritual life. Who cares where it leads? This is my unique expression, dying to manifest.

    Your book shines as a light in darkness, because some of the potential of magick as an adult spiritual path shines through. It is helping me connect more deeply with the GD tradition, to embody it, and find my own unique expression of it. Thank you.


  12. Mike Howard · May 24, 2012

    I suppose it all depends on the definition of ‘adept’. In the mundane sense, as opposed to the romantic/fantasy one, of somebody who is highly skilled or proficient in magic I have met a few in my time. I was also taught that if anyone calls themselves an adept they probably aren’t one! Also I have had enough practical experience of how magic works and pruduces tangible results not to doubt it. Prove it to others is the ‘problem’ and it is something you ahve to experience yourself, like any kind of paranormal or spiritual event.

  13. Mike Howard · May 24, 2012


    The story I heard was that a French-Russian aristocrat ran a GD temple in Paris before the war and was a friend of Madeline Montalban and an early member of the Order of the Morning Star in the 1950s. She did seem to have friends in ‘high social places’. No doubt somebody can fill in the name and other detials? I have helped Julia Phillips with her forthcoming biography of Madeline, to be published in September under the auspices of the Atlantis Bookshop in London, so she probably got the story from me!

    As to my autobiography. I did write a memoir in ‘The Cauldron’ a few years ago describing some of the magical and Craft folk I have met since the 1960s. However I have no plans for a full-length bio. As somebody with a reputation for telling history ‘warts an all’ and a great believer in the truth, as opposed to the myths, misinformation and disnformation, it would upset too many people still alive. I seem to have the uncanny ability to upset enough people as it is by telling the truth! ROFL.

  14. Darpan Gondlir · May 25, 2012

    Thanks Mike, for your reply. I never doubt that magickal practice can create adepts of magick ;-), that is, give the practitioner certain powers and psychic experiences. Yet does this also imply spiritual evolution or at least becoming more of what you really are beyond ego?

  15. Mike Howard · May 25, 2012

    Well, I can only speak from my experience and I would say that those few people i have met who I would consider magical adepts were spiritually evolved – or at least more than most and as much as one can be an incarnated form. My own take on the subject is that at its ‘highest’ or more advanced level the magical path is one of attaining gnosis leading to spiritual illumination and enlightenment, and ultimately release from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Therefore, unless they are some crazed power-junkie, I would presume any person who could be considered an adept would be walking that path in a journey of self-discovery and self-development. I am also aware that ‘magic’ encompasses many other aspects and no doubt we could discuss what they are until the proverbial cows come home!

  16. Peregrin · May 26, 2012

    Hello Darpan – thanks for your comments. I will respond soon to your own blog post, where I will give my thoughts. For now, I think Mike is saying a lot of what I would say. Thanks for the comments on the book; it is a lovely sentiment you express 🙂

  17. Peregrin · May 26, 2012

    Hi Mike,

    thanks for thew information 🙂 I had not heard of the upcoming biography, so I will watch out for that -thanks 🙂

    Sad about the bio… now of course, I am all the more intrigued! 🙂

  18. Frater Mr. Ed · May 27, 2012

    @ Darpan

    You asked is magic valid as a spiritual path? I keep hearing that it is so it might be true. But evidence in its favor is darn scarce.

    As for the Golden Dawn, it is a brand name, a shiny package, and is not magic. The contents of the package are what’s important. What are those contents, the rituals? Are the rituals magic? What is magic and if it really could help on the path, how?

    The GD groups are fighting over the package. It’s a marketing war. The true spiritual magic isn’t just another product in the marketplace no matter how spiritual are the marketeers or how long their lineage is.

    A problem with this magic stuff is that it is so easily used to enhance the ego. That makes me consider some questions. Like, when one is initiated into those realms where the ego is of no use, what about the magic? When the ego feels threatened, as it will in the process of spiritual evolution will the magic be an ally or an enemy to evolution? Does our magic defend us or do we have to defend our magic because it helps support our ego?

    Sorry to tell you what you already know.

  19. Suecae · May 28, 2012

    What do you say when you just want to chime in and say, thanks for a great post?

    I dunno: so, I’ll give it a go.

    Thanks for a great post!

  20. Layo · May 30, 2012

    Hi Frater Mr. Ed,

    I was recently wondering the same thing. Does proficiency at practical magic prolong clinging to narcissistic objectives? It’s likely – until the day we bite off more than we can chew. 😉 Still, the GD didn’t teach sorcery. Either way though the problem of ego aggrandizement through titles and knowledge seems to be a major issue even with lodge magicians who couldn’t magic up a parking spot, which would be a problem with lodges whether magic were part of the picture or not – that’s just people for you.

    My experience has been that repeated and balanced invocation of the celestial archetypes whose woven influences pattern the manifest world does give an experience of interconnectedness with all things, and that this is of benefit on the path. I do think that the Siddhis are a distraction, but they can certainly come in handy in a tight spot. On the other hand, the temptation to kick some ass when we’re treated unfairly must be universal – I wonder how other people have dealt with this crossroads. Should you be passive when people engage in a prolonged attempt to ruin your life, or risk getting on a self-righteous power trip and bullying people with magical violence should it turn out you have a talent for war? Preferring peace doesn’t guarantee you’ll get it. The magical world is weirder and more corrupt than I’d have imagined, and the ethical conundrums are difficult. There are really adepts. Many of them are not believers in truth, freedom, and peace.

  21. Mike Howard · May 30, 2012

    The magical path is one of personal self-development and one could see that as basically ‘selfish’ or at least self-centred Also when any sort of ‘power’ is involved dysfunctional individuals will be affected by that and may develop feelings of self-deluded aggrandisement. However it is one thing to hold the rank or call yourself a Grand Heirophant or Magister or whatever and another thing to take the practical responsibilty that goes with the title. As Andrew Chumbley, the late Magister of the Cultus Sabbati, said, one of the first things anyone running an Order, magical lodge or covine has to learn is humility. Anyone in that position should always remember that they were a student once. Andrew’s view was that a teacher is necessary until the student does not need one anymore and can, if they so wish, go forth and teach others or just follow their own path. In that way the relationship between teacher and pupil is only a temporary one and is not open to abuse. Also I find that a good antidote to personal ego has always been contact with the spirits, especially angelic beings, because you soon realise your lowly position in the universe! 🙂

  22. Andrew · May 30, 2012

    Mike Howard’s comments (May 30, 2:48pm) resonate with me because, as a teacher in an exoteric school (yay 7th graders!), as well as a practicing magician with apprentices, I’m regularly confronted by the problem of aggrandizement as well as the need for humility. I’m deeply in favor of orders with rotating leadership, because one of the most powerful magical experiences of my working-group career was the astonishment of stepping down from the presidency and taking a lesser office, with the knowledge that I would step out of any role in a year, for at least a year. That was hugely beneficial to my growth — knowing that I could be Grand Hierophant again, but that I was not now.

  23. Mike Howard · May 31, 2012

    In some modern traditional witchcraft covines the Magister or Master only serves for the magical seven years. Then his position is ‘renewed’ and either he steps down and is replaced or by mutual agreement carries on for another seven year period. In one group I personally know about the role of Magister or Magistra (Mistress) is taken on by all the experienced members on a rotation basis . This is for the other magical period of a year and day, or a full cycle of the ritual Wheel of the Year. Perhaps it is something that would work, or perhaps does already, in a magical lodge.

  24. Peregrin · May 31, 2012

    Hey everyone, and Mike – this is very interesting.

    This IS done in most sensible magical lodges. The practice stems from the lodge tradition started by Masonry. Leadership and roles are open and visible, shared and rotated. Core principles that solve a lot of problems.

    I cannot say anything re the traditions you speak of, but it is clear that Wicca (Gardnerian) drew a lot from the Lodge tradition. Prof Hutton calls it the latest development of what began in the 17th century with Mason’s Word.

    I would be very interested to know if there was cross-fertilization between the groups you refer to, Wicca or lodge traditions. Did the Magisters teach the Masons, or the other way around? 🙂 Very interesting. What do you think, Mike? Thanks 🙂

  25. Mike Howard · May 31, 2012

    Hope this is not tto far off-topic! I have not found the practice I described in Wicca, although some traditional covines have been influenced by Wicca and it is known that Gerald Gardner had Old Craft contacts and in one known case an initiation into a ‘robed coven’on the Isle of Man. IMO the modern traditional witchcraft revival pre-20th century was influenced by Freemasonry. Also rural secret societies like the Guild of Horseman, the Miller’s Word, the Fraternity of Ploughman. Unfortunately I don’t think that Ronald agrees with me on that last point! Some people think that historical witchcraft in fact influenced Freemasonry, but I would not go that far.

  26. Suecae · June 2, 2012

    Just a short question, I found the second image incredibly striking. Do you know the artist?

    Kind regards

  27. Christopher Bradford · June 16, 2012

    I’m late to the game, but great post Fra Peregrin!

  28. Pingback: On the inevitability of diversity (but not schism) « WiccanWeb
  29. Pingback: Change within the Golden Dawn and Wicca | Magic of the Ordinary

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