Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (or, more commonly, the Golden Dawn) was a magical order active in Great Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which practiced theurgy and spiritual development. It has been one of the largest single influences on 20th-century Western occultism.
Concepts of magic and ritual at the center of contemporary traditions, such as Wicca[3][4] and Thelema, were inspired by the Golden Dawn.
The three founders, William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers were Freemasons and members of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (S.R.I.A.).Westcott appears to have been the initial driving force behind the establishment of the Golden Dawn.
The Golden Dawn system was based on hierarchy and initiation like the Masonic Lodges, however women were admitted on an equal basis with men. The "Golden Dawn" was the first of three Orders, although all three are often collectively referred to as the "Golden Dawn". The First Order taught esoteric philosophy based on the Hermetic Qabalah and personal development through study and awareness of the four Classical Elements as well as the basics of astrology, tarot divination, and geomancy. The Second or "Inner" Order, the Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (the Ruby Rose and Cross of Gold), taught proper magic, including scrying, astral travel, and alchemy. The Third Order was that of the "Secret Chiefs", who were said to be highly skilled but no longer incarnate; they supposedly directed the activities of the lower two orders by spirit communication with the Chiefs of the Second Order.

History of the Golden Dawn

Cipher Manuscripts
Main article: Cipher Manuscripts

Folio 13 of the Cipher Manuscripts
The foundational documents of the original Order of the Golden Dawn are known as the Cipher Manuscripts; they were written in English using Trithemius cipher. The Manuscripts give the specific outlines of the Grade Rituals of the Order and prescribe a curriculum of graduated teachings that encompass the Hermetic Qabalah, astrology, occult tarot, geomancy, and alchemy.
According to the records of the Order, the manuscripts were passed from Kenneth Mackenzie, a Masonic scholar, to Rev. A.F.A. Woodford, whom British occult writer Francis King describes as the fourth founder(although Woodford died shortly after the Order was founded).The documents did not excite Woodford and in February 1886 he passed them on to Freemason William Wynn Westcott, who managed to decode them in 1887. Westcott was pleased with his discovery and called on fellow Freemason Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers for a second opinion. Westcott asked for Mathers' help to turn the manuscripts into a coherent system for lodge work. Mathers in turn asked fellow Freemason William Robert Woodman to assist the two and he accepted.[6] Mathers and Westcott have been credited for developing the ritual outlines in the Cipher Manuscripts into a workable format.[8] Mathers, however, is generally credited with the design of the curriculum and rituals of the Second Order, which he called the Rosae Rubae et Aureae Crucis ("Ruby Rose and Golden Cross" or the RR et AC).


Influences on Golden Dawn concepts and work include: Christian mysticism, Qabalah, Hermeticism, the religion of Ancient Egypt, Theurgy, Freemasonry, Alchemy, Theosophy, Eliphas Levi, Papus, Enochian magic, and Renaissance grimoires.

Founding of first temple

In October 1887, Westcott wrote to Anna Sprengel, whose name and address he received through the decoding of the Cipher Manuscripts. Westcott claimed to receive a wise reply which conferred honorary grades of Adeptus Exemptus on Westcott, Mathers, and Woodman and chartered a Golden Dawn temple consisting of the five grades outlined in the manuscripts.

In 1888, the Isis-Urania Temple was founded in London,where the rituals decoded from the cipher manuscripts were developed and practiced. In addition, there was an insistence on women being allowed to participate in the Order in "perfect equality" with men, in contrast to the S.R.I.A. and Masonry.This first lodge did not teach any magical practices per se (except for basic "banishing" rituals and meditation), but was rather a philosophical and metaphysical teaching order. It was called "the Outer Order" or "First Order" and for four years the Golden Dawn existed only in this order. The "Inner Order", which became active in 1892, was the circle of adepts who had completed the entire course of study for the Outer Order. This group eventually became known as the Second Order.[citation needed]
In a short time, the Osiris temple in Weston-super-Mare, the Horus temple in Bradford, and the Amen-Ra temple in Edinburgh were founded. A few years after this, Mathers founded the Ahathoor temple in Paris.

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