The Rosicrucian Review: How Rosicrucian is the Golden Anyway?
Hello gentle readers,
Welcome to another installment of my Reviews of the Rosicrucian Orders.
After reviewing Amorc and the Martinist Order we now enter into a new phase. This one is going to take some rolling up of my sleeves because carrying out a review of the Golden Dawn is no simple task.
During the review you’ll get to see what the difference is between what the manifestos taught and how the Golden Dawn does things. We’ll be asking ‘How Rosicrucian is the G.D anyway?’
Some Rosicrucian elements the G.D embodies extremely well, far better than any other Orders.
But before anyone gets too excited; the Golden Dawn completely flops on some points, leaving students to ponder whether or not these are points worth expanding upon for future study.
As with all my posts these examinations are given in order to further help students embrace their Rosicrucian heritage, whatever avenues they have chosen to study.
I’m inviting all readers to enjoy a good read and not take anything to heart.
Having had guidance in G.D learning under two mentors, each expert in their own fields, my review appreciates the Golden Dawn both as a former student and as someone who has stepped outside of it, viewed it objectively, and looked at it from angles not considered within the Golden Dawn.
Students of any system, whether Amorc or G.D etc. risk seeing their beloved system subjectively, rather than objectively, and begin to become attached to the body itself, for all that it has done for them.
My take on this however is that one must be careful of what we call (in fitness training) ‘goal hijacking’ where a person begins to see the vehicle as the objective rather than their original intended goal. In the realm of Rosicrucian study the goal is regeneration, and there are symptoms of goal hijacking when it takes place in its pursuit. Thus when I speak with any person, I don’t want to speak to you ‘as a member of Amorc, or as a member of the Golden Dawn’ etc. We should speak as Rosicrucians.
If we begin to vehemently defend a system, which itself is only an imperfect vehicle and teaching body, to the point of hating and attacking others in its defense, then the Order has not only failed us, but we have also failed in reaching our original vision. Thus joining an Order can leave us worse off than before.
I mention this in regards to those who feel upset or that their ‘beloved Order’ has somehow been attacked in the process of its examination. No system or its teachers should however be above scrutiny, less we fall victim to blind acceptance. The problem is that when within an Order one does not always see the gradual process of goal hijacking occurring and for that matter how one has succumbed to a group mentality. Again, there are symptoms, mostly seen in how people view their Order/leaders.
Freedom of the mind should always be primary to any Rosicrucian.
This is why I appreciate Rosicrucians who recommend to new potential students on our Rosicrucian Tradition Group to join OTHER ORDERS that are not the Order to which they belong.
This shows fraternal warmth towards all the brotherhoods, acceptance that other paths are as valid as your own and one size does not always fit all. On the other hand when I see people constantly recommending their own Order, without consideration to an individual students’ needs I find this quite cultish and lacking in understanding the broad vision of the Rosicrucians we aspire to here.
Golden Dawn students, as much as Amorc members, should look for this core RCism.
Viewing the Golden Dawn with Rosicrucian Eyes
Some Rosicrucian readers may find it a surprise that the G.D is included in this series of reviews. After all, many Rosicrucians do not consider the G.D an RC Order. Further to this, some G.D leaders themselves agree, considering instead that its Rosicrucian properties are an overlay to the ritual.
Yet I find this approach mundane-making, if not a modern absconding of a Rosicrucian current.
After all, its Rosicrucian tomb is quite a drastic measure to have, if Rosicrucianism is only to add another layer to its ceremonial side. As you’ll see the ‘not Rosicrucian’ theory does not hold up.
The inner order of the G.D is called the Rosae Rubae et Aurae Crucis, (RR et AC) meaning the Order of the ‘Ruby Rose and Cross of Gold,’ not only referencing a German Rosenkreuzer connection, but also continuing the RR et AC terminology from one of its documents; the Thesaurus Theasaurum.
In fact many Golden Dawn symbols, regalia items and concepts are derived from the Golden Rosenkreuzers of the 1700’s (here after GuRC.) Not only that they also come from Boehme, which is a bit of knowledge most G.Der’s are not aware of, and we’ll cover that in detail in this series.
As my readers know we are in the process of seeking after our traditional roots.
Golden Dawn readers will naturally view this review through their own worldview-lens, which carries its own preconceived interpretations. One of the best ways to approach this review however would be to read it not through the eyes of a ‘magician of the Golden Dawn’ but rather as a member of the ‘RR et AC or inner Rosicrucian Order of the Golden Dawn’ for starters, and better yet just plain ‘as a Rosicrucian.’
This way the review is not taken to heart, but instead offers a chance to appreciate some finer elements that not everyone is talking about. Different teachers will emphasize different elements but my role here is to acclaim it is high time more Golden Dawn students relish and delight in their rich Rosicrucian heritage. Not all G.D bodies ignore these facets, but as a Pansophist my belief is that the more one embraces this heritage the richer their path becomes. The reviews are aimed to assist in recovery.
Clearly the ambitions and symbols of the manifestos were spelled out in the Fama, the Confession and the Chemical Wedding. This is why the more an Order connects with early R.C documents, such as the manifestos, Rosenkreuzer materials, diagrams or the works of Boehme, the greater it scores.
And in case you never went to high-school, life is all about scoring.
The Golden Dawn in Greater Rosicrucian Context
The interesting polarity created by the Golden Dawn is that it’s said to be the antithesis to Martinism (by most Martinists) and seems to make Rudolf Steiner students appear like aliens. Not the little green kind.
Steiner, Martinism and Golden Dawn have very different ideas about Rosicrucian initiation and in future post we’ll examine this contrast closely because it opens a broader Rosicrucian view.
Martinism scored very highly in its Rosicrucian Review. Steiner’s own current and his body of initiations derived from Egyptian Masonry will be reviewed after this G.D series. The apparent approach of Martinists against magic creates contrast, and Steiner seemingly warns against many avenues taken by the G.D and specifies certain levels of attainment before even touching G.D type work.
In fact several G.D techniques are black magic in the eyes of Martinism and Steiner.
Martinism also follows the Way of the Heart which is the missing ingredient to G.D work, while Steiner is also a Pansophist who broadens the approach to all elements of culture. I place these three systems already within three categories; Martinism is all heart, Steiner is all head, and G.D is all action.
(Each has a degree of the other, but those are its central ingredient.)
On our road to understanding the true Rosicrucian path it is clear that all approaches are needed.
Thus while the G.D does very well in this review, it would be a mistake to assume it is the be all and end all. For Golden Dawn students; you’ll just have to keep reading the review series, concerning the M.O and Steiner, even if you are not interested in studying either of those paths, as by doing so you’ll arrive to a greater understanding of the whole picture within your own system.
The RR et AC does not belong to the Golden Dawn
It belongs to the greater Rosicrucian current.
So stay tuned on this blog where I’ll open up these avenues in my up-coming posts; the ‘Martinist Order of the Golden Dawn’ and the ‘Anthroposophical Order of the Golden Dawn.’
Alas, we can’t get there without understanding the G.D first.
The Problem of the Golden Dawn Review
One major problem of scoring this particular tradition is that of varying traditions and branches.
There is today’s G.D vs. the original G.D, and they may not always represent the same way of thinking. As well, there is the ‘public Golden Dawn’ vs. the esoteric and still hidden Golden Dawn Orders.
My initial thoughts are that the original system should be given emphasis in the review first, despite what modern movements have done. Public and modern approaches broaden the review.
The Public Golden Dawn encapsulates all mainstream approaches, as has been created by authors associated with the Regardie revival, including Chic Cicero, Pat Zalewski, David Griffin and Nick Farrell; the main voices for Public Golden Dawn. At times they offer an approach which is often at odds with the actual G.D documents. They tend to down-play the original Rosicrucian-Christian elements.
The Esoteric G.D as a hidden stream remains more active in its Rosicrucian approaches, but being hidden it’s not likely that you’ll easily find them. They avoid public forums, websites and Facebook groups. Yet their R.C elements are celebrated, they carefully observe the Christian and Rosicrucian doctrines, and they have taken them in directions we would deem more traditional. Please note here that by ‘esoteric G.D’ I mean hidden bodies, and not the Esoteric Order of the G.D which belongs to the Public G.D realm.
Unfortunately even mentioning the very idea of still hidden Golden Dawn Orders is considered blaspheme in some Public G.D circles, so certain as they are that their branches are the only ones with any lineage to claim. So much so that now a militant behavior towards other lineages has become a norm, as is shooting down any ‘challengers’ to a monopoly they imagine they have.
As is often the case, those who speak the most (in this case publish the most) know the least about it. But the hidden branches do exist and I’ve been fortunate enough to interview two of them.
This gives rise to two very different approaches and both must be considered.
On the one hand the Public G.D preaches the G.D as a ‘magical Order.’ But the Esoteric G.D is a more ‘Rosicrucian Order’, in terms of having ideas closely related to the manifestos and which places the G.D within the context of the greater European systems, including Martinism and Christian Cabala.
Wescott and Mathers, and other members of the Society of Eight, who were responsible for creating the original G.D were also members of the Martinist Order and this influence can still be seen today within Esoteric G.D branches. One branch of the Esoteric G.D actually studies Pansophy.
In contrast the some of the Public G.D branches follows Felkin’s lead by incorporating Blavatsky’s Theosphical ideas and other eastern Hindu concepts. In terms of a Rosicrucian Review looking to quantify traditional value these eastern cross-breeds score badly. Some Public G.D orders have very western approaches yet they are absolute in being ‘magical’ rather than R.C.
Thankfully due to quiet interviews I’ve carried out with the esoteric G.D these branches will be represented to some degree. It is also my personal opinion that these branches represent the true Golden Dawn, being more aligned to the greater scheme of Rosicrucian Pansophy. However, seeing that most people are not permitted access to the teachings of such bodies their influence in the review scores has to be somewhat diminished, as after all these ideas are not widely known, even to many well-known groups, and do not represent the Golden Dawn everyone has come to know.
Thus for the review we are caught between what is publically known and what I would deem more traditional and is yet unaccessible. The only solution is to help the hidden Golden Dawn orders show what they emphasize from the original tradition and what they wish me to share.
This does not even touch upon the problem of open source material, and the fact that anyone can pick up published material and start their own Order, creating even yet more diversity, perhaps soon the ‘Pokemon Order of the Golden Dawn.’ I tend to look at the publishing of such material as Crowley type behavior as certainly he passed on this habit to Regardie who passed it onto others.
It has done little good for those who can access powerful material without Rosicrucian guidance. But then again my belief is also that the Public Golden Dawn does not have Rosicrucian guidance either.
The result is that the Aeon of Horus has dawned an Aeon of Morons.
The Rosicrucian Origins of the Golden Dawn
The review itself cannot be done without first understanding the Golden Dawn-Rosicrucian connection. Is the G.D really a R.C Order at all? If not then was it intended to be Rosicrucian?
The simple answer is YES, both historically and in its traditional history.
By traditional history I mean the references the G.D makes to its mythical or supposed origins which cannot be proved, and may perhaps be too fantastic against the scrutiny of reality. All Orders have a traditional history. The very story of Christian Rosenkreuz in the Fama is the prime example.
Its historic origins however are more interesting.
The Golden Dawn is said to have been founded upon a series of documents known as the Cypher Manuscripts. Not to be undone by the notion the founders created the G.D themselves they instead sought out a story of German Rosicrucian origins to lend their new Order more authenticity.
The story of the ‘discovery of the manuscripts’ led to their alleged contact with Anna Sprengel. She was a German representative of the Order and Westcott said she was a member of the German GuRC.
Thus a German contact was invented and so were the cipher manuscripts.
However underneath this history is still yet another Rosicrucian layer. The fact remains its creators were all members of the English Society of Rosicrucians in Anglia (SRIA) founded in 1866. Thus it appears the SRIA was a prototype Order and the Golden Dawn its ‘2.0’ edition.
It would seem the real origins of the G.D are a bit boring. But, the story doesn’t stop there.
What most people don’t know is that behind the origins of the SRIA was an actual German encounter.
Recent information has surfaced detailing events leading up to the founding of the SRIA. Essentially English masons did a tour of German and Belgian lodges and encountered spectacular rites (amongst the rites drawn from, shock horror to English masons, was the Egyptian Rite of Misraim). The excursion left them with a sense of purpose; that the English should also have such a Rosicrucian branch.
G.D traditional history states that Secret Chiefs were behind the founding of the Order. Public Golden Dawn continues to believe this story despite the fact we know Anna Sprengel was an invented character.
Of course the idea is not un-Rosicrucian. A core idea of the Fama is that the Rosicrucians were hidden.
Members really believed in the traditional history, so that after the Golden Dawn had divided into two branches, the Alpha et Omega of Mathers and the Stella Matutina of Felkin, both parties continued to lay claims to being in contact with Secret Chiefs, either nominating someone or inventing more.
Here Felkin tied his S.M branch to Steiner, lending authority and establishing a German connection, thus helping him authenticate his off-shoot Order. Mathers maintained, as founder of the Order, the Chiefs had not abandoned him and he was meeting them in person. I am inclined to believe the inspiration continued with Mathers after examining his later A.O documents.
And what if the Secret Chiefs are real? We must leave such encounters to personal experience.
If anyone did know them, it probably wouldn’t be worth saying so.
Now, onwards with scoring the Golden Dawn Review here.
Listening to Queen today.
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