Examining the Magic of the Golden Dawn
Is Golden Dawn Magic Really Rosicrucian?
Welcome to the Rosicrucian Review of the Golden Dawn part three.
This section is dedicated to reviewing the Trinosophia Score of the Golden Dawn.
For new readers the Trinosophia review examines how strongly the G.D represents the three paths of alchemy, magic and cabalah, as was outlined by the original Rosicrucians.
Other reviews in this series question how well the Christian elements of the R.C current are represented as well as Pansophic ideas, thus uncovering its traditional Rosicrucian value.
Those interested in how the scoring system was drafted should refer to my earlier post.
Now in covering the Trinosophia score of the Golden Dawn we get to examine its magical work.
And this is where the system really shines. But Trinosophia should be represented in alchemy and Cabala equally so, and we’ll find out if the G.D truly is Trinosophic… or not.
In this blog post we’ll review the G.D’s magical score. I’ll cover the alchemy and Cabala ratings in my next post, totaling towards the final Trinosophia (Three Wisdoms) score.
One thing I need to point out here that a few people may have missed is that being a Trinosophist is quite an accomplishment. Think about it. The Rosicrucians did not only aim to be masters of Cabala or Magic, or Alchemy, but masters of all three arts!
The very idea of a master of divine magic meant that the magus could communicate with angels, and channel planetary powers towards changing material outcome. His mind was in the heavens, he was touched by the divine, and he could influence the world itself, by being so blessed by God.
As if that isn’t a lot to pull off, the idea of a master alchemist means creating the Philosophers Stone, transmuting matter and not only that, restoring one’s immortality, as was lost from paradise.
Lastly the master of the Cabala is a priest and divine prophet. She or he is a mouthpiece of God, and communes with ancient prophets, and foresees the future to boot. He is divinely blessed.
In case you didn’t notice; realizing any one of these singular paths is a lifetime achievement.
But realizing all three? This to my mind places the Rosicrucian path above all others.
Of course a bit of immortality granted by the Philosophers Stone probably would go a long way towards lending us a bit more study time to actually realizing the other two. Just saying.
Golden Dawn Magic, an Unrivaled System
Without question the Golden Dawn
system of magic is unrivalled.
That being said, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is the most sensible ‘Rosicrucianly speaking’ seeing that the aims and ambitions of the Rosicrucians are sometimes largely ignored in the pursuit of magic. But as to the magical system itself, it’s got all the tools and methods any Rosicrucian could ever wish for.
Indeed the magical factor here creates the strongest impact for scoring any Rosicrucian system.
But we need to be clear, is it really Rosicrucian after all?
That’s today’s juicy bit;
We’ll question whether or not such a system, as the Golden Dawn sees it, complies with the early Rosicrucian vision, and even if it really is Rosicrucian for that matter.
As with my other entries, this post examines the system in light of how they stand against my Pillars of the Rosicrucian Tradition, a scoring system created to test any Order and measure how well it truly represents Rosicrucian traditions. Concerning the magical practice, yes – the Rosicrucians, I mean the original Rosicrucians of the manifestos, practiced magic. But not all magic is equal.
Wicca and Crowley’s systems are magical, yet they are not Rosicrucian.
As with the earlier post we are also examining Public Golden Dawn vs. Esoteric Hidden Golden Dawn.
In many ways these reviews are also given as a kind of ‘letter of consideration’ towards the various Orders. Sometimes it’s a call to say ‘take a look at this direction’ and sometimes it’s a full blown ‘pull your thumbs out of your asses, that is totally against Rosicrucians values!’
For students the public vs. hidden Golden Dawn argument also points out how pop culture occultism has influenced the Order vs. the humble realities of tradition. Just keepin it real.
Magical Score of the Golden Dawn
Firstly let us be clear, the G.D system is entirely ceremonial.
Even its alchemical operation is carried along by much ceremony. Its program for initiates is to learn a magical approach by first ‘banishing’ negative forces, then followed by invoking planetary or elemental forces through the use of the pentagram and hexagram rituals.
Essentially the student is given a full blown curriculum of not only study but ritual work to carry out at each level. Many of its ideas are rooted in the Occult Philosophy of Aggripa as well as magical notions taught by Paracelsus. After them comes the all-important approach of Eliphas Levi who taught a system of magic based on invoking the ‘astral Light’ as a basis to empowering the magical rituals.
So far these ideas tie the G.D system nicely to Rosicrucian origins. More importantly the magical system of the G.D is rooted in Kabbalah to which the Rosicrucians also claimed to be masters of.
There are five main operations of magic for the adept:
- Transformation or Spiritual Development.
Each of these depend upon Hermetic principles like ‘above so below.’ For example a G.D magician will trace in the air, right above a talisman or spirits’ seal, a sigil using the principles of correspondence through planetary timing, color, and the sigil itself is drawn from magical squares. These ideas are used to draw forth the influence of the planet or draw out the spirit itself from the astral plane.
In many respects these ideas fit nicely with not only the Hermetic influence upon the Rosicrucians but also is reminiscent of the Rosicrucian idea of the ‘City of the Sun.’ Here Rosicrucians by following the vision of Bruno have imagined that the Rosicrucian tomb itself is based upon a planetary assembly of the gods, and that the reformation of the world first had to take place as a reformation in the heavens.
The only difference here is that many of the magical practices employed by the G.D are put towards selfish ends rather than towards the ambition of regeneration of culture and humanity as the Rosicrucians intended.
Indeed many Rosicrucian elements are completely ignored here.
For example; while the G.D has bombastic methods, long winded rituals and elaborate performances that take several hours when done correctly, much of what is valued becomes a pursuit of ‘the more complicated it is the more special it must be.’ Therefore students forever seek ‘higher teachings’ that are more advanced. This has led students to pursue teachings for their own sake.
In comparison to Boehme the G.D system is magic for magical sake, whereas Boehme clearly outlines a system of magic that is alchemical and is solely aimed towards Reintegration.
The reason I reference Boehme so much as that he was one of the major contributors towards the group that wrote the D.O.M.A document that would go into the foundations of the Golden Rosenkreuzers to which the Golden Dawn claims its descent.
Indeed the ‘Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians’ publication is really just a republication of D.O.M.A which originated in Frankenburgs Pansophic Circle.
Back then the ceremonial arts of the Rosicrucians were different. And this is where we see the difference between Public Golden Dawn and Esoteric Hidden Golden Dawn groups.
Unlike Public G.D the Hidden sections still prefer simplicity. The elaborate ritual processes are broken down into finer phases and done independently. The focus is not on how much ritual you do as a magician but the quality of the work is more important; and to be sure it is more devotional.
This simplicity approach began with Mathers who started to simplify his Alpha et Omega rituals. Public Golden Dawn largely considers them as ‘watered down,’ and in doing so completely misses the Rosicrucian approach. This is where I keep finding that Esoteric and Hidden Golden Dawn Orders are more akin to Martinist Orders, despite not being members of any Martinist lineages.
I have suspected however a Martinists influence upon Mathers during his time in France. Refer to his Alpha et Omega 6=5 ritual, where a brief explanation of the grade signs is given. It explains that Mathers imagined the work of the Adeptus Major to be the use of the ‘Geburah force to subdue evil spirits.’
Clearly the influence comes from Pasqually’s Elect Cohens of the Universe, into which Saint Martin was initiated. The current is still practices the exorcizing of demonic influences away from the minds of humanity as a major operation of the Cohens. Sounds quite Christ-like really.
The French vs. the English Rosicrucian systems are indeed largely considered different. The British systems are occult and long winded, and heavy going in terms of needing more grades, test and papers.
The French system is lighter, follows the Way of the Heart and therefore places more emphasis on our internal intentions rather than how ‘powerful’ a ritual appears to be. Thus Mathers’ approach was never a watering down of the original system, but rather follows a different European style.
Why mention all this? It’s because there is more than one Rosicrucian approach, three I would say; the German, the British and the French. The British magical system of the G.D is largely known but not the others, belonging to groups who have not yet surfaced publically. We are considering the Order strictly from a Rosicrucian perspective and it is quite clear that the G.D magical approach is also cluttered.
Does its magical approach appear consistent with the Rosicrucian cloister legend of the Fama? Can you imagine Christian monks in Germany practicing such a long winded system? No, definitely not.
(By this I mean what Public G.D is teaching, and NOT the hidden groups)
Two events happened to transform Rosicrucian history. The first was the appearance of the Golden Rosenkreuzer, which claimed the ‘cloister Adepts’ had created Freemasonry and only ‘we Rosicrucians’ know the true secrets of the masonic brotherhood. Thus a masonic form of initiation was started in the stream, forever changing how Rosicrucian groups operate.
At that point in time the teachings were still very closely aligned to the manifestos I must say however. The GuRC taught A LOT of alchemy and had a version of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin.
The Golden Dawn is the second event, which changed this approach towards a British flavor. Now instead of alchemy the Rosicrucians seemed more obsessed with magic. Alchemy was put on a back shelf though not entirely ignored, (despite what moderns say, it was just secondary.)
Thus the cloister system, if you believe traditional histories, evolved. I would say in fact that in doing so the Rosicrucians lost touch with their roots and ignored the spirit and approach of the manifestos.
But we can’t yet provide a real magical score for the G.D without first understanding the original R.C system of magic however. This review’s score really needs to put this into context.
But What is Rosicrucian Magic Really?
Sorry it’s not Reiki (hijacked under the G.D name of ‘Ruach Healing.’) and sorry OTO its not sex magic. And in case you didn’t get the memo, it’s definitely not dressing up in funny Egyptian gear.
Magically, the only thing the Rosicrucians said to do was to heal the sick freely and gladly.
Unfortunately not a lot of the Golden Dawn system is aimed towards healing, far from it. While it has several complex rituals and methods, that CAN be applied to healing, it is not the official aim of the Order, and therefore loses some points on its magical score.
Remember one of the manifestos named the Rosicrucians ‘The Therapeutic Brotherhood.’
Regardie wrote a book on healing, and several times discussed how the astral light of the Middle Pillar ritual can be used for healing. The problem is; talismans, evocation and several other methods of the G.D can be used for healing. So why have so many ways to skin a cat? For the sake of it?
As I wrote in my Rosicrucian Tradition of the Golden Dawn the problem of the G.D magical rituals (of the RR et AC) is that you could effectively use each ritual for the purpose of ‘getting back your ex-boyfriend.’
Making matters worse Paracelsus made it quite clear
everything can be manifested and magically done
by the power of imagination alone,
so why add all ‘the clap trap?’
Unless its for something else…
My hypothesis was that if you were to actually look at early Rosicrucian works and the traditions themselves, of Cabala, alchemy and the magic of Abramelin, you are given clear intentions, as to what each of those rituals should be for. Each has a purpose towards Regeneration.
Cagliostro and several Rosicrucian currents mention the ‘reception of the Pentagon’ for example, which was a holy blessing from God. It was thought that the Rosicrucian should receive this magical seal from his Holy Angel and then consecrate it. And if you read the Abramelin carefully such a seal and process also appears. The seal itself is a compact or personal covenant between that person and God.
After this the ‘newly Reintegrated magus’ would now have achieved a stronger bond by which to call his own Holy Angel into appearance. The magus is also now ‘Reintegrated’ in the sense that they have reunited with the divine hierarchy, as the first step towards greater Regeneration.
The external Golden Dawn magical system ignores this, entirely, and such Rosicrucian traditions.
In fact there is no thread that runs from magical ritual to ritual showing a spiritual progression.
In my book I concentrated on revealing how the magical rituals of the Golden Dawn could be used properly when aligned with Rosicrucian intentions. The next step of the Abramelin for example was to then evoke your Holy Angel to appear, an act which would bring further illumination. Cagliostro’s work also follows the same process. Thus my book stated that first the Z2 Talisman ritual could be used to consecrate the Holy Pentagon and secondly the Z2 Evocation ritual would manifest your Holy Angel.
You get the idea… the rest of the process I have since developed further since the original publication. The point is that Public Golden Dawn Orders ignore the TRADITION of Rosicrucians to the present. In doing so they have a magical system that lacks any real spiritual intentions.
When discussing the matter the term ‘spiritual development’ just doesn’t cut it, as you can see the Rosicrucians had very clear goals in mind, and later Orders developed those ideas.
BUT Esoteric and Hidden Golden Dawn Orders still work closely with Rosicrucian intentions.
The Public Golden Dawn does not. Thus there are two magical G.D systems. One that is more akin to ‘casting spells to get what you want’ and the other is very Rosicrucian, but is alas barely online.
One contact with the Esoteric Hidden G.D current of an Alpha et Omega lineage also practices several forms of healing, using old systems which were practiced by alchemist such as Paracelsus and of that Rosicrucian period.
Remember that without healing the Order ceases to be Rosicrucian.
Thus I will state that in my review what this essentially means is that Public Golden Dawn Orders, while they have the Rosicrucian equipment, such as the Rosicrucian tomb for initiations, and all the right words, DO NOT practice Rosicrucian magic.
They do practice magic, but it is nothing like the Rosicrucians would have wanted.
Clearly the Rosicrucian form of magic only has these goals:
- The Reformation of the Whole Wide World.
- The establishment of a Christian Utopia.
- Healing any illness.
- The Philosophers Stone (alchemy)
- Spiritual Reintegration (Cabala)
- Divine Communion (magic)
Any other forms of magic would be considered evil or wasteful. Any work done towards the reformation of the world or the establishment of a new utopia or any kind of magic aimed at assisting the unification of humanity is appropriate. So would banishing negative forces from the mind of humanity.
Magic and alchemy could both be used for healing. But if you study these ambitions, as set out in the manifestos, you are NOT left with the freedom to conjure demons for the ‘glory’ of it.
Any form of magic not done for assisting humanity or healing then only leaves one option; to evolve yourself as a spiritual being towards the state of being a fully divine realized being of Light.
Now that we have defined Rosicrucian magic with the above six points we can go ahead with the magical score of the Golden Dawn. It all seems like bashing so far, but not all is lost.
Fortunately the Golden Dawn has something that shines as a truly Rosicrucian system.
The Golden Dawn Sphere of Sensation
Your Rosicrucian Get Away Car For Ditching New Agers
Although complex one of the best teachings the G.D has to offer, in Rosicrucian terms, is their model for the Sphere of Sensation. This model is essentially their Rosicrucian magical aura theory.
Not only is the aura here a magical egg for regeneration, it also becomes a sphere that is charged with the Astral Light thus empowering the magician’s rituals. Here is where it gets really interesting.
A central idea is that the Astral Light is needed for magic. The more astral light the more power you have for your rituals. The Golden Dawn offers magical formula such as the L.V.X signs, the Kabbalistic Cross ritual and the Middle Pillar ritual to help empower the Sphere of Sensation with the Astral Light.
Then in theory this power could be drawn into charging a talisman or bridging to another realm in order to help bring through the manifestation of some angelic presence.
The wording of the G.D process is quite complicated if you are not familiar with Cabala.
But I’ll summarize it; basically you have different parts of your Sphere, which make the polarized field of your magical aura. It expresses the qualities of your higher self, and the Light is drawn down through the higher self into the Ruach (conscious aura) and then lastly it goes into the Nepesch. The later here is basically your etheric body, which expands out into a sphere shaped field.
When you trace pentagrams into the air, projecting astral images, symbols and sounds, they travel (from your intentions) from your higher self, through your conscious self, out into the sphere. This Sphere of Sensation is also your contact with the astral realm, and makes and receives impressions.
Thus it is a ‘magical mirror’ as well as a conduit of intentions to other planes.
When a symbol, such as an angelic sigil, is traced in the air, it is passing through the Sphere of Sensation and is charged by the power of the Astral Light that you have drawn down into your being.
But here is the catch.
The Astral Light may only fully be received according to the virtue of the operator.
The more virtue one has the more light s/he is able to draw through their Ruach. It is explained that the rays of the higher self are caste down and become the Rays of the Ruach (illuminated conscious divine thinking) and this shows a process of real inspiration. But then the Rays of the Ruach are cast down and illuminate the Nepesch, making the Sphere of Sensation and orb of pure light.
But unless you have virtue, truly have developed a Christ consciousness, then this transmission of light is dampened. This is also where Public Golden Dawn gets it entirely wrong.
Such actions cannot be ‘willed’ alone into being. The quality of the soul is a conduit of Light.
Light is afforded the operator to the measurement of their virtue.
Most G.D groups completely ignore this aspect of the teaching. But it is quite clear.
In fact most Public G.D groups ignore a lot of what the original documents state. This is the caveat between Public G.D and Hidden G.D Orders. The Hidden groups get the virtue thing.
The clearer the Ruach or soul, the better we may reflect light into manifestation. The more brilliant we polarize these Rays of the Neschamah through the virtues the more powerful the magical aura.
It also explains why Saints are able to work miracles. They don’t practice magic, they ARE fully charged as magical beings. Their Ruach have become open vessels for a direct transmission of Light from the higher self to the Nepesch, thus creating a being who prays with god-like power.
It also explains why most magicians are impotent, poor and unsuccessful, many of whom actually need to make money by charging for their ‘powerful teachings.’ Greed and selfishness basically cut short one’s magical ability, and while the magic worked at first, it was only because one has now depleted the limited resource of light they had. After that they are magical have-beens.
I would even say 99% of G.D magicians cannot do any real magic.
It is also no wonder why charity and healing is such an important part of Rosicrucian magic…
The G.D Sphere model has all the hallmarks of a Rosicrucian system. It is based partly on Fludd’s diagrams and Ramond Lully. It also incorporates ideas from Agrippa where he talks about this ‘more virtue = more Astral Light’ theory. It also incorporates the Tree of Life, and even the Enochian system of John Dee. In total it is the most important aspect of all G.D teachings, and the most Rosicrucian.
In fact it is very compatible with Martinist and Rosicrucian Reintegration legends.
When the G.D Adept is fully illuminated his ‘Nepesch shall become the Genius of the Qlippoth.’ What this means is that one’s Nepesch is not only the etheric body, it is also the EGO radiance. This ego is now fully illuminated and becomes a holy angel or divine power over demons and lesser spirits.
The Rosicrucian is assisting in creating a point of Reintegration for the lower hierarchies. He is reconnecting dark forces and bringing them into conformity to divine will. The practical application of this is seen in the Abramelin where one conjures forth the demons to make them swear obedience. It is not stated that such a ritual is necessary in the Sphere teaching as it should happen naturally.
Thus between the Reintegration legends of Pasqually, Boehme and the Rosicrucians, you have your Rosicrucian software. The Sphere of Sensation model is your Rosicrucian hardware.
Interestingly the G.D initiation diagrams show the process of Reintegration in the Sphere of Sensation, firstly depicting Adam in paradise. Later a diagram shows how the coils of the dragon have penetrated the human sphere, only to be driven back by the illumination of becoming a Christ.
Now this relationship between the diagrams and the Sphere is quite interesting, firstly because these G.D diagrams are actually taken from Boehme (yes the source of Martinism) and secondly because Steiner also makes reference to the same in his Tree in the Aura teaching.
Thus the Reintegration legend comes to life and is played out in the rays of the magical Sphere.
Golden Dawn Magical Score Conclusion
As with all reviews, the magical score of any Order is worth ten points. Combined with a potential ten each for alchemy and Cabala, making a total of 30 potential points for a Trinosophia Score.
We have already reviewed the Martinist system and something is to be learned here.
The Golden Dawn system, while it has all the tools and methods, largely ignores the greater doctrine of the Rosicrucianism. In comparison the Martinist have fewer methods but spend more time focusing on the idea of Reintegration, as the doctrine itself is fully explored.
In this respect, one is all meaning, the other is all method.
But clearly the purpose of Rosicrucian magic, such as healing and assisting humanity is a concern for Martinist and Cohens and not Golden Dawn,
This shows that Martinist magic is more Rosicrucian than Golden Dawn.
Thus the Golden Dawn gets 7/10 for its magic score.
I can already hear people smashing down on their keyboards, but here I repeat; this does not mean that Martinist magic is better or more powerful than Golden Dawn. Only that it is more Rosicrucian.
And again this problem refers to Public Golden Dawn teachings.
It also proves an interesting point; that despite certain people not wishing to see a blend of the two traditions, the idea of a Martinist Order of the Golden Dawn is an attractive one.
After all, if Public Golden Dawn followed this line of thought enough they would have much more in common with the original brotherhoods who practice in the Hidden Golden Dawn systems.
The score of seven points out of ten is going to annoy G.D folks. But this is not a rating of its ‘magical system’ but rather a rating of ‘how Rosicrucian that magic is.’ As a major influence and system of itself it deserves a straight ten. But so does Jessica Alba, and she ain’t Rosicrucian either.
P.S next blog posts:
- Trinosophia Score Part 2 for the G.D (Alchemy and Cabala)
- Pansophy Score of the G.D
- G.D conclusion
- Martinist Order of the Golden Dawn
- Steiner Rosicrucian Review
- Anthroposophical Order of the G.D
- A Secret Account of a Strange Rosicrucian Group I Met
- History of the Pansophic Circle
- Boehme’s Alchemical Magic of the Christosophia