In this post we will introduce our Outer Order, and some of the similarities and differences between our Order and other Golden Dawn Orders. Later posts will expand upon some of the individual points and subjects that are presented here, as well as introduce our Inner Order, at least as much as may be revealed.
Our outer Order is titled “The Order of the Golden Dawn in the Outer”, and was officially founded on the Autumnal Equinox of 2007, although we were doing ritual work and functioning as a group prior to that time. We chose to use the name “Order of the Golden Dawn in the Outer”, as it seemed the most common name we could find associated with the original order from the books and documents in our possession at the time (we are amateur Golden Dawn historians at best). On July 15, 2105, Dean Wilson in one of his blog posts titled “The Name/s of the Order of the Golden Dawn”, summed up the various names used and associated with the original Order by stating the following:
“Perhaps the simplest name to use (in the case of the original Order) is “Order of the Golden Dawn,” as this is largely consistent throughout the various forms, and the one adopted in both the official rules and rituals.”
We also decided that as was the practice in the original order, that we would use Egyptian God names for our Temples. For our original/Mother Temple, we chose Thoth to lend his learning and wisdom to our pursuits, and the form of Amen-Ra (or Amun-Ra) to signify our adherence as a western ‘solar’ order. In ancient Egypt, the god of wind, Amun, came to be identified with the solar god Ra and the god of fertility and creation Min, so that Amun-Ra had the main characteristic of a solar god, creator god and fertility god. Thus, by adhering to the solar nature of our path, we might create a living, breathing entity of life and light, to help illuminate not only our lives, but those of our fellow brothers and sisters.
The original Knowledge Lectures, Rituals and Meditations were used as the starting point for our Outer Order’s Knowledge Lecture outlines and lessons and to measure the progress of its members. We noticed that each grade had various lessons in various subjects, such as the Elements, Astrology, Alchemy, Hermetics, Kabbalah, and Tarot to name but a few. However, there was not a consistent set of each of these in each grade. To enhance the curriculum, we used the original Knowledge Lectures as a ‘Required’ base, and expanded each grade to contain additional information on each one of these subjects, each one building on the lessons learned in the previous grade. So, in each grades’ materials in our Order, you will find information on each one of these valuable subjects. Thus, if you are very interested in tarot or hermetics, there is some amount of grade material in each and every grade of the Outer Order on these topics. If tarot or hermetics are not of as much interest, perhaps Kabbalah or Astrology are, and the student has plenty of material to continue those studies. While there is still some amount of required material in each of these areas to learn within certain grades, the student may choose an area that is of interest to them to study in a more in-depth manner during their journey through the First Order. This leads the magician to finding a path or specialty within our Second Order course of study, which will be addressed in a later post. For example, in Regardie’s “The Golden Dawn”, the Second Knowledge Lecture contains some alchemical symbols as well as a list of terms and their meanings. There is also a small section on some Alchemical meanings also found in the Fifth Knowledge Lecture. Those are the only two requirements for Alchemy found in the published Outer Order Knowledge Lectures. What we have done, is to add a section on Alchemy to each grade, so that there is a full course on Alchemy found within the Outer Order. The student is only tested on the required Knowledge Lecture sections, but if Alchemy is of interest, there is a complete course throughout the Outer Order, which serves as an introduction, and does not impinge on the Inner Order Alchemy course and specialty.
Another function that we have added at the educational level (not that it is unique only to us) was to require each member to write two papers at each Grade of the Order. The first being an overall experience paper, regarding their experience both in the ritual and throughout their work of the grade. This paper is designed only to be seen by the Chiefs of the Order. The second, being a “Knowledge” paper, based upon a point of the ritual or something related to the Knowledge Lecture information found in that grade. Some of these papers are added to the Appendix section of our Knowledge lectures, thus giving an expanded look at a Knowledge Lecture topic, or perhaps branching out and adding additional information closely related to a Knowledge Lecture topic. These are also not required reading or study, but certainly add to the overall corpus of material used in our Order.
In working with the grade rituals of the Order, we attempted to use the oldest rituals that we had in our possession at the time. We did not opt to use the later ‘Stella Matutina’ rituals, but rather the older ‘Golden Dawn’ rituals. One thing we were never afraid to do (and still are not) is to experiment and try new or different things in regards to the initiation rituals. We compare any changes or ‘trials’ with the original cipher documents, and anything that does not fit is discarded. However, if the change or different approach does not conflict with the original cipher docs, then we test it in practices and discuss it at length. After a period of time, discussion and approval, some changes may be added to the rituals. Utilizing this process has led to some very interesting trial and error experiences, some of which will be shared in future posts. Essentially if it is found in the cipher documents, we adhere to it. In the original Order, the Cipher Documents were used as an outline, and the rituals were fleshed out significantly from the ciphers. Accordingly, if we feel that there is something that can be fleshed out further, or perhaps modified in some way to improve the experience, then we will give it a try, providing it does not ‘violate’ the cipher documents.
One thing that likely differentiates our Order from most other Golden Dawn orders is the active nature of seeking one’s HGA. Our three founders had all undertaken some form of the Abramelin process. We felt it important enough to specifically integrate this into the curriculum. Some might say that this makes us non-traditional or even ‘not’ Golden Dawn. That’s fine, and they are entitled to their opinions. While the process of working with one’s HGA is not inherently found in the original order teachings, there are certainly allusions to it, in the form of The Bornless Ritual among others. Samuel Mathers, one of the founders of the original Order, also translated and published one copy of the Book of Abramelin (not that publishing this work meant that it was to be integrated into the Golden Dawn, but it certainly attracted the attention of many of the original Order’s members). Nick Farrell wrote a very nice analysis of the Abramelin process into the Golden Dawn on his blog, which can be found here. While we do not follow that exact process, it is somewhat similar. As Nick points out, the Abramelin process is divided into 3 distinct time frames. What we do in our Order, is the magician goes through the first two phases while in the Outer Order. Upon reception into the Inner Order, they go through an abbreviated version of those first two phases once more (with more information, emphasis and Inner Order perspectives added), and then continue on with the third and final phase. We have found very consistent results as our members have passed through the Grades, enough to serve as a validation that our approach works (again, not that we have a monopoly on that in any way, it is just one way, but does work). While it is not required, we also encourage our members to also go through the actual Abramelin process itself. This is in addition to the HGA work that they do within the Order.
These are some of the ways in which our Outer Order both adheres to, as well as differs from, the original ,and other, Orders of the Golden Dawn. We like to call ourselves “traditional” Golden Dawn, but also with a progressive outlook. We are not against making some changes to the system, but those changes must have a solid grounding in the system itself, they must fit into the structure as well as not go against the current of the Order.
Yours in the Great Work,
V.H. Frater M.T.O.
Praemonstrator, Order of the Golden Dawn