Golden Dawn – what’s in a name?

Nick Farrell – not the GD magician you’re looking for.

Recently Nick Farrell made the announcement that the Order he leads, the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea (MOAA) was no longer a traditional Golden Dawn order and should not be described that way. Some folk appeared a little miffed at this, not that it should be any surprise for attentive readers of Nick’s works. He started off his magical career elsewhere, is always ready to broaden and experiment and always calls a spade a spade. I guess the limitations and problems of the GD system finally got to him. After all, the GD has always attracted more than its fair share of numpties and people any sensible person would cross the street to avoid.

MOTO of course has always been aware of the problems with the GD – as much as I love it and adore it and am daily sustained by it. Indeed, one of my very first posts addressed the issue: the Golden Dawn as Institutionalized Esotericism. And if that was not enough, later I went on to point out Nine Dangers of the Golden Dawn. Buyer beware, I guess – except the evidence shows that many younger GD students do not even read the classical material well (or at all) much less warning blogs from hobbits down under. Such is life 🙂

Nick’s announcement roughly coincided with a little bit of information from one of my contacts, where it was spelt out that the Golden Dawn was never meant to be an enduring, unchanging tradition. ‘It’s all there in the name’, ‘he’ said: the dawn is an in-between moment of time, announcing the morning, but not the morning itself.

Now I found this very interesting, especially since we decided to call the first (now long dead and egregore decomposed) group I set up way back when, the Order of the Golden Day. Not that IT lasted longer than the original GD, but it did inspire something very cool 🙂 This got me thinking about other GD groups (and offshoots) and their names. This is pretty playful, but hey I might be onto something as we magicians all know the power of names, right? Right.

Golden Dawn (& Morgan Rothe). Were these groups destined not to last in their original forms, being named after the fleeting dawn? Mmm.

Stella Matutina. R.W. Felkin obviously thought so, and caught wind of the problems naming an Order after a transient dawn – he decided to make a grab for the morning instead (Star of the Morning) 🙂

Mr Mathers – the big thinker of the GD gang.

Alpha and Omega – And Mathers was clearly taking no chances after the rebels chucked him out and scuppered the short-lived GD. He didn’t try to outdo Felkin by grabbing a whole DAY for his Order (like I did). No, he thought REALLY BIG in the naming of his next Order – you can’t get bigger and more extensive that the FIRST and the LAST. The association with Christ would have been a nice bonus for him 🙂

Holy Order of the Golden Dawn. In the meantime, A.E. Waite thought he could get things on track by simply booting out the irksome ‘esoteric’ and ‘hermetic’ components and replacing them with ‘Holy’. Nice. Shame it didn’t work, and the dawn never lasted there either. But he quickly bounced back with:

The Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. No nonsense, no time stamps there – and indeed the FRC has trundled along in one form or another until today. 🙂

Jumping on this bandwagon of naming Orders for things apart from times of day, when Felkin abandoned ship on the SM (all the way to New Zealand) he named his Order there Smaragdum Thallasses (Emerald something or other) commonly called after its temple, Whare Ra (House of the Sun) – and lo and behold this was a very long lived Order indeed 🙂

Paul Foster Case and Dion Fortune took no chances, and named their groups simply and directly with no time references at all: Builders of the Adytum (and we all know how long THAT will take) and the Fraternity of the Inner Light. Both, unlike the Dawn or Morning groups are still going strong today.

Makes you think, eh? 🙂 Thanks.



  1. Nick Farrell · December 26, 2013

    Yep these orders did not seem to care particularly much about the name “golden dawn” and I have been racking my brain to remember a Whare Ra person ever use the phrase to me. Why is it that people are so hung up on a name which was not even a a feature of the majority of the wider Order’s history? If names have a power then why tie yourself to the least magical (or mystical) and most fractured “Golden Dawn” group. Particularly when most people take their inspiration from the Stella Matutina?

  2. Peregrin · December 26, 2013

    Why – cos of the book, pure and simple. It was called ‘the Golden Dawn’ so that became ‘it’. People love names and categories 🙂

  3. Darcy Kuntz · December 26, 2013

    Good article. Smaragdum Thallasses means Emerald of the Sea.

  4. Peregrin · December 26, 2013

    Thanks, Darcy – that’s what I thought but having no books here could not be sure – and could not find it in Latin translators on the net. Latin is a strange and curly beast of language 🙂

  5. immanuel644 · December 27, 2013

    and you forgot Crowley’s A.’.A. ‘., the Shining Star

  6. Pat Zalewski · December 27, 2013

    I think that because the GD was left unfinished it may give the appearance of an order that kicks starts you into other things. However I have got so much out of it since I started in the late 70’s I cannot agree with that concept in its entirety. I definitely extrapolated many of its principles in developing the second order form the THAM and up and from that a wealth of material flowed that I am still working on after 35 years in the game.Spiritual Alchemy and its by products of alchemy and GD ritual is one such example.

    The GD had two models it, The first was initiation and the second was to study with the awakening experience. but use the principles outlined in the ritual as a guide – a point you have alluded to. The problem as I see it, is that people went through the rituals and without fully understanding their principles. Case never had the time in the GD to fully explore. the rituals while Dion Fortune was still in Bristol until she died.. In both their teachings you can see the GD analogies which both expanded in courses.that were further extrapolated by others. I think that once you bring the alchemical component into the GD as I have done, then the it allows a restudy of the rituals and all that that entails. I still use the GD rituals as a base and the ones I have written for the 6=5 and up open more doors for me and hopefully others as well. So in essence In tend to think the GD has a lot to offer over a lifetime ( and not just a s kick start) and at 65 I guess I am a living example of that lifetime commitment..

  7. Peregrin · December 27, 2013

    Great points, Pat – as always. Thanks 🙂

  8. MvdV · December 28, 2013

    My apologies in advance, this is being posted from an internet kiosk in thailand, so if I miss a few leters, its becase of he dodg keyboud!.

    Truely by defining somethingby a name we identify it, but we also limt it. In my experience both within the esoteric and without (for example; Tai Chi, there are names for actions within the form, but we do not use them as my teacher does not like to limit our minds to the application of that particular movement as it may be applied in many different situations) names are powerful and by lettng peple know the “true” name of a thing will lesson its power. Why do we use mottos, if not for maintaining our own power (private, controlled and free of interference)

  9. Peregrin · December 28, 2013

    Thanks Frater MvdV for struggling with the ‘dodg’ keyboard 🙂 Great and relevant points – thanks. Though many Orders say otherwise, I always suspect they (like ours) have an outer (public) and inner name for this very reason. 🙂

  10. Icthys · December 29, 2013

    Not that it matters much, but since the meaning of the words “Smaragdum Thalasses” was brought up, I would like to add my 2 cents. Smaragdum is the accusative singular of the word smaragdus, which means emerald in Latin. Thalasses is the nominative plural of the word Thalassa, which means sea, in Greek. Now it is obvius that it is a mish mismatch of two words, one Latin and one Greek having no exact translation. I guess naming something in Latin or Greek was cool back then…

  11. Peregrin · December 29, 2013

    THANK YOU, Icthys – you have solved a minor mystery for me, as I was mistakenly thinking it was all Latin! I had read it meant ‘Emerald Sea’ but before I put the meaning down, I checked quickly on the net and could not find a match in Latin. No wonder! What a funny thing… I wonder why they did that… if you’re reading this Tony F, or Nick or Pat… any ideas? Thanks again 🙂

  12. morgandrake · December 29, 2013

    Isn’t asking why Felkin mashed up two languages to make a name, much like asking why Westcott used a half dozen languages in his notes? Or why the original Order used Greek names for the Grade titles in Outer Order, and used Latin for the Inner Order Grade titles? By the time Felkin steps into the picture, it is tradition to do mashups like this.

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