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Friday, May 1, 2009

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Goes YouTube

In 1887, a Freemason named A.F.A. Woodford found an “ancient” ciphered manuscript dealing with Kabbalah and tarot in a London bookshop. A note was attached directing anyone who deciphered the manuscript to contact a certain Fraulein Ann Sprengel in Nuremburg, Germany. Woodford supposedly did so, along with fellow occult-minded Masons S. L. MacGregor Mathers and William Wynn Westcott, and they received permission from their mysterious German contact (known in the Order as Soror Sapiens Dominabitur Astristo) start a Rosicrucian society in England. This group formed the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

A Temple was started in London, called Isis Urania, and attracted occultist Arthur Edward Waite (who popularized Tarot cards in the 20th century), poet William Butler Yeats, authors H. Rider Haggard and Bram Stoker, playwright August Strindberg, artist Edward Munch (painter of the famous “The Scream”), Aliester Crowley and many other famous personalities of the period. Crowley would later leave the organization and start a legal war by publishing the rituals of the Golden Dawn in his magazine.
A second, “inner order” also existed, called the Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis, and from the name, it’s clear that it derived at least part of its inspiration from Rosicrucian philosophy. All of this activity seems to have been driven by the belief of a small clot of men who felt that Freemasonry wasn’t secret enough or occult enough, and that the fraternity had somehow forgotten its roots in Rosicrucianism. Most Masonic scholars and researchers challenged the theoretical Rosicrucian origin of Masonry then, and still do today.

The movers and shakers of the major occult movements all seemed to know each other in the later years of the 1800’s and into the early 1900’s. Sooner or later, fights would break out and one group would accuse the other of not doing rituals properly or of making too many innovations in an “ancient” practice that was made up the previous year, and away they’d stomp in a huff to go start a new group. This is what we like to describe as the “ten guys chanting in their socks in the living room” syndrome. This is why it is so important to bear these circumstances in mind when reading “definitive” books from “high-ranking” sources in these organizations. They seemed to be in a constant state of esoteric tantrums and running off to start a new group.

Golden Dawn splintered into various factions (the Independent & Rectified Rite of the Golden Dawn and the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, to name two) when it was revealed in 1914 that the manuscript the Order was founded upon was a hoax, and the fictitious Fraulein Sprengel was nowhere to be found. There remain at least a half dozen modern groups all claiming to be authentic descendants of the original Order today. Not surprisingly, there have been lawsuits and allegations of trademark violations, which seems to be the fate of so many esoteric organizations the world over.

This past week, a series of YouTube videos have appeared online, depicting ceremonies of the Golden Dawn. Curiously, they come not from pranksters seeking to expose their rituals, but from the Order itself. The group doing the posting is called the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega, and is based in France. Their website explains that their order is in fact the one and only descended from Mathers:

"Due to fakes and pretenders, S.L. MacGregor Mathers renamed the Golden Dawn as the ‘Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega’ already over a hundred years ago, keeping the Golden Dawn only as the Alpha et Omega’s outer order.

Today the internet is flooded with groups wanting a free ride on our reputation by calling themselves ‘Golden Dawn.’ We believe the real deal is important because your time and money is too important to waste.

S.L. MacGregor Mathers’ Alpha et Omega is the one and only Golden Dawn order continuing the lineage and original mission of the order – to give you the keys to effective life-mastery."

Their membership page can be found here.


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