In London,1888 A.D., three Rosicrucians
and Freemasons, W. Wynn Wescott, Dr. William Woodman, and Samuel .L
"MacGregor" Mathers founded the most influential occult order since
Freemasonry. Their Order was known by the official title as "The Holy
Order of the Red Rose and The Golden Cross", or more simply, "The
Golden Dawn". Mathers claimed to have found a super secret manuscript
of an occult order in Germany-in of all places-a used book stall in
London. Mathers lied about being in contact with secret chiefs in
Germany who supposedly gave him the instructions to start the Golden
Mathers did many things that anyone would find at least
"eccentric". Among other things, he used to play "ghost chess", with a
spirit that only he could see. He would move the piece wherever his
invisible opponent would tell him. He also told people he was a
descendant of King James II, even though he wasn’t. Even more
bizzare, he sometimes claimed to actually be King James II himself! Not
the reincarnation mind you, but the actual King James II who had
somehow lived into the 19th century, even though history records he was
killed in battle in 1460 A.D.! .
Mathers claimed he got in contact with these "secret chiefs" in
Germany. Some people have speculated the German secret chiefs were just
German occultists, but the truth is they never really existed at all.
The order’s rituals and dogma was a mish-mash of all kinds of occult
thought like Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Egyptian mythology, Enochian
Magick, Cabala, material from medieval grimories, Hinduism, etc., etc.
But unlike most occult orders, this one attracted some of the more
notable members of English society.
Some of the members included Sax Rhomer, author of the Fu Manchu
novels, poet William Butler Yeats, science fiction author Arthur
Manchen, actress Florencce Farr, and Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle author of
the Shelock Holmes novels. Bram Stoker has mistakenly been called a
member, but he did seem to be friends with a couple of the members. Two
other members; E.A. Wallis Budge was the curator of the British Museum,
and Wescott was the London Postmaster.
It also attracted the usual occult types as well, many of whom are
legendary in occult literature. Arthur E. Waite wrote numerous books,
including the infamous Book of Black Magic and of Pacts ( a digest of
ancient black magic grimories). His tarot deck became the best selling
tarot deck of all time, although he never lived to see it. Dion Fortune
wrote many occult books and occult novels. Israel Regardie is best
known for his two volume set detailing the rituals of the Golden Dawn,
titled the same. The most infamous member of all was Aleister Crowley
who led to the order's downfall, and played a big part (or at least his
writings did in any case) in the creation of Wicca.
Machen was not quite as naive as the rest, and only was a member of the
Order of the Golden Dawn for a about a year (1899-1900), just prior to
the schism that splintered it. He remained skeptical of mystical orders
and secret societies throughout his life. Perhaps the most telling
piece he wrote about his experience in the G.:D.: comes from one of his
autobiographical writings. He saved himself from potential libel suits
by changing or omitting the names of the players and changing the name
of the order to the "Order of the Twilight Star". An excerpt from his
book tells the whole story:
" Among the members there were, indeed, persons of very high
attainments, who, in my opinion, ought to have known better after a
year's membership or less; but the society as a society was pure
foolishness concerned with impotent and imbecile Abracadabras. It knew
nothing about anything and concealed the fact under an impressive
ritual and a sonorous phraseology. It had no wisdom, even of the
inferior or lower kind, in its leadership; it exercised no real
scrutiny onto the character of those whom it admired . "
"And yet it had and has an interest of a kind. It claimed, I may say,
to be of very considerable antiquity, and to have been introduced into
England from abroad in a singular manner. I am not quite certain as to
the details, but the mythos imparted to members was something after
this fashion. A gentleman interested in occult studies was looking
round the shelves of a second-hand bookshop,...when he found between
the leaves a few pages of dim manuscript, written in a character which
was strange to him. The gentleman bought the book, and when he got home
early eagerly examined the manuscript. It was in cipher; he could make
nothing of it.
But on the manuscript -- or perhaps on a separate slip laid next
to it -- was the address of a person in Germany. The curious instigator
of secret things and hidden counsels wrote to the address , obtained
full particulars, the true manner of reading the cipher and, as I
conjecture, a sort of commission and jurisdiction from the Unknown
Heads in Germany to administer the mysteries in England. And hence
arose, or re-arose, in this isles the Order of the Twilight Star. Its
original foundation was assigned to the fifteenth century."
"I like the story; but there was not on atom of truth in it. Its true
date of origin was [1880-1885?] at the earliest. The 'Cipher
Manuscript' was written on paper that bore the watermark of 1809 in ink
that had a faded appearance. But it contained information that could
not possibly have been known to any living being in the year 1809, that
was not known to any living being till twenty years later.
It was, no doubt a forgery of the early 'eighties. Its originators must
have some knowledge of Freemasonry; but so ingeniously was this occult
fraud 'put upon the market' that, to the best of my belief, the
flotation remains a mystery to this day. . . There was not the ancient
frame of mind; it was not even the 1809 frame of mind. But it was very
much the eighteen-eighty and later frame of mind....the Twilight Star
shed no ray of any kind on my path."(10)
Machen was in a far better position to judge the G.:D.: than anyone
alive today, having been an actual member himself. The fact that the
cipher manuscript Mathers claims he found in a London bookstall was a
fake suggests Mathers if not all three of the founders of the G.:D.:
were in fact the authors of the manuscript. Mather's introduced
Aleister Crowley to the group, and he would later live to regret it.
Crowley no doubt realized there were no German secret chiefs, and wrote
a letter to Mathers while staying in Cairo that the secret chiefs had
made him the new head of the Golden Dawn. Crowley probably figured
since Mather's wouldn't be able to contact the Secret Chiefs because
they didn't exist, he would have to step down or be exposed as a fake.
Mather's never replied to Crowley's letter, and instead revoked his G.:
D.: membership. Crowley claimed later he and Mather's fought each other
with magick spells, trying to kill one another.
Eventually it came out that Mather's made up the whole Secret Chiefs
and bookstall manuscript story, and the scandal caused him to be
removed as head as the Golden Dawn. He spent the remainder of his life
in poverty. He died of pneumonia in and of course, Aleister Crowley
took credit for it, claiming his curse had killed him. Yeah, 17 years
after their battle started! This is a trick many occultists use to feel
powerful. When someone you don't like dies, say your spell killed them.
It's a pretty obvious trick, but so few people want to believe the
Crowley figured out there were no secret chiefs, and called
Mather's bluff, claiming the Chiefs had made him the head of the Golden
Dawn in a letter to Mathers, and that they wanted Mathers out.
Eventually Mathers admitted he lied about the secret chiefs, which led
to him being kicked out, & the Golden Dawn being disbanded 1903.
Crowley wrote that he ran into Monia Mathers years later in Paris, and
that she had been reduced to performing in live nude shows, because
Mathers and his wife were now in dire straits [ref The Occult?],
although Golden Dawn fans merely dismiss this as sour grapes on
Crowley’s part. Macgregor died in poverty from Pneumonia in 1918.
His widow Monia eventually faded into obscurity and died in poverty.
Since we know Mathers was a liar, why bother with him? He was a fake
and had no powers!
ANNA SPRENGEL (Invented in 1885, impostor b.1850? - d1910?) Like
Christian Rosenkrutez and Coot Hoomi, Fraulein Anna Sprengel never
really existed...at least not at first. Mathers had invented the story
of an Anna Sprengel being his contact to the “Secret Chiefs” who
supposedly gave him instructions on how to start a Golden Dawn chapter
in England. In reality, Mathers was the creator of the Golden Dawn, and
he had lied about Secret Chiefs and Anna Sprengel. By the 1890's, some
members of the Golden Dawn had begin to doubt the authenticity of the
order’s rituals. Mather’s was slowly losing credibility in the group.
The appearance of Anna Sprengel in the flesh would save his bacon, or
at least he must have thought so.
After the Golden Dawn broke up, one member, a Dr.
Felkin, actually traveled to Germany prior to the years of WWI,
desperate to find the real Secret Chiefs and Anna Sprengel. He did find
a woman who had the same name, but she assured Felkin she wasn’t the
mystic adept he sought. Nevertheless, Felkin still wanted to believe
and didn’t want to face his friends empty handed, so he claimed he had
met Sprengel’s niece, based on the encounter with this “other” Anna
Sprengel (this is known as “lying”)!
A few years prior to this incident, Mathers had
tried to pass off a fake Anna Sprengel. Her real name was Editha
Jackson who went by the aliases Laura Horos ,Mrs. Diss Dabar, Angel
Anna, and Swami Viva Ananda. The story goes, she and her husband Frank
Jackson met Mathers in Paris in January of 1900 and introduced
themselves as members of the American Golden Dawn, and that she was
even none other than Anna Sprengel herself who had been his contact
through the mail. Jackson was a hefty 250 lbs., and claimed she was so
large because she swallowed the soul of the now deceased Madame
Blavatsky, who was now inside her.
Mathers would later claim that even he too had been duped by the
Jacksons, but more than likely, they were hired by Mather’s to play
their roles. Mathers knew better than anyone Sprengel wasn’t real, so
if he had been duped by her, then he was much more delusional than
previously imagined! The fact that Mathers initiated the pair into the
1st Degree of the Golden Dawn seems strange if the Jacksons were really
high ranking Golden Dawn members already, and suggests Mathers must
have really known they weren’t.
The stunt backfired when Jackson and her husband
stole the Golden Dawn rituals and tried to set up their own version of
the Golden Dawn called The Order of Theocratic Unity. It
backfired even further when Edith and Frank Jackson were later arrested
on charges of the rape of a young female Theocratic Order member.
Miss Vera Corysdale claimed in sworn testimony during the Jackson’s
trial that Frank and Eidtha had drugged her and hypnotized her each day
for a period of several days. In her helpless state, Frank had
proceeded to rape her as part of her “initiation ritual”.
Under oath Corysdale told a shocked London court that Frank had even
claimed he was Jesus Christ, and that having sex with him wasn’t a sin
but “an act of piety”. Furthermore, any illegitimate children that
might be accidentally born would be “Divine”. Frank received 15 years
in prison and Editha received 7 years. They both died in obscurity
after their release from prison, and probably in poverty.
The Golden Dawn members denied the Theocratic Unity
was part of their organization, but the story was all over the
newspapers, and they were all tainted by the scandal because of their
connection to the Jacksons. The scandal only furthered Mather’s image
as mentally unstable and a fraud and hastened his eventual dismissal.
There were even humorous New Year’s greeting cards printed up sold
commercially that made light of the trial and mocked the Golden Dawn.
The Jackson’s rape trial contributed to the disintegration of the
Golden Dawn, perhaps more than anything else did.
Anna Sprengel, a fake fraulein fleshed out into life by a
fraudulent medium who wound up in prison! A hoax that was built on top
of another hoax!
The Golden Dawn disintegrated in part due to Aleister Crowley, and
tried to live on in various forms. Crowley plagiarized the rituals of
the Golden Dawn and started his own version called the Argentinium
Astrium (A.: A.: for short). It folded after a few years. Dion
Fortune started an order of her own, and claims Mather's widow tried to
kill her with black magic out of revenge. In 1913 the Urantia Temple
was formed by A.E. Waite, but dissolved a few years later.
One problem that led to this extinction was successor
organizations said they weren't going to take in the more dramatic nut
jobs, apparently feeling burned by Crowley and Mathers. But without the
raving nut jobs for entertainment, this left only the occult geeks, and
the more normal (and wealthier) celebrity types lost interest. And with
them went the money.
ARTHUR EDWARD WAITE Waite created the famous “Rider Waite” tarot deck,
but it was published years after he died, and he never got to enjoy the
monetary success of it. He had little formal education, and most of it
seemed to come from “pennydreadful” novels, although he did even manage
to even learn some Hebrew and Greek self taught. Even though Waite
called himself a Christian, he wrote the infamous Book of Black Magic
and of Pacts. He later re-edited the book into a more “workable” format
called The Book of Ceremonial Magic ( a grimorie of black magic),
showing he was serious about practicing black magic...something a real
Christian would never be involved in!
One such spell was a ridiculous ritual for creating a magic “gold
finding hen”, that involved reciting incantations and pouring whisky on
a chicken egg. From this egg, after several days a miniature rooster a
few inches tall was to hatch out, and be able to hunt down buried
treasure! Even though Waite’s books claimed to give instructions
for creating such an impossible thing, he certainly never seemed to
able to actually do it himself, and all one would create from such an
experiment is a rotten egg. It isn’t the first time an occultist has
Waite was one of the members of Mather’s Golden
Dawn. As gullible as Waite might have been, even he doubted the rituals
of the order were as ancient as Mather’s claimed. He thought they were
probably written around 1870 at the earliest. Still, Waite went along
with it, apparently knowing of the Order’s bogus origins anyway.
There was nothing extraordinary about Mr. Waite, and never
really did anything that could be considered magic. He helped
perpetuate a fraud.
DION FORTUNE (1890-1956) a.k.a, Violet Firth (real name) Some Wiccans
claim she was a Wiccan too, but her occult order, The Society For Inner
Light based in England, continues to deny she was a Wiccan and says she
was only an "Esoteric Christian". One day at work when her boss chewed
her out, the poor thing nearly had a nervous breakdown, and suffered
for two weeks. Raised in a Christian Science home, she became convinced
her boss had poisoned her with "animal magnetism" and the her boss must
have somehow learned the technique on a trip to India. It didn't occur
to herself that she might have just been overly sensitive and leapt to
She joined the Theosophical Society (as mentioned, founded by a fraud)
and later the Golden Dawn (which was also founded by a fraud) as well
as one of its successive orders after it broke up. There, she had
a falling out with Monia Mathers (Magregor’s wife), and then claimed
now Monia was trying to kill her with magic. She must have been kind of
like the kid who complains "Mom, he won't stop looking at me!"
At night she dreamt of magical battles with Monia in
the “astral realm” that she thought to be real and later wrote about.
When a bunch of stray cats purportedly showed up in her neighborhood,
Dion was convinced this was somehow due to a hex from Monia Mathers.
The poor thing even imagined she saw a giant tabby cat walking down her
staircase that she took to be a “thoughtform” created by Monia.!
She was on good terms with Crowley and referred to
the self-Proclaimed anti-Christ as “My Dear 666", and often sought out
his advice on the occult during his flophouse years. Strange behavior
for a Christian, certainly. No doubt Crowley successfully extracted
money and sexual favors from Fortune, as he did all his students. She
claims once she accidentally created a “werewolf thoughform” and asked
Aleister Crowley how to correct the situation. Fortune wrote the
thoughform was created when she was really angry at a woman who
annoyed her earlier that day. I wonder if the woman ever had a peaceful
friendship with anyone other than Crowley?
She was briefly married to a man in the 1950's, but
they couldn't stop bickering over the right way to perform "magic".
They never actually did anything normal people would find magical, so
all the bickering was rather pointless. He eventually left her for a
prettier, younger woman, and you think with all those supposed occult
powers she would have been able to have foreseen it before she married
him. Fortune wrote several books, including Psychic Self Defense
for those who live in constant fear of getting "the whammy" as she
seemed to have. In may ways, she’s no different from the superstious,
undereducated types that carry little red flannel bags with magnets in
them, hoping to ward off jinxes.
When you ditch the occult, it's the greatest feeling
knowing no one can hex you. I know it’s great never having to carry
around stupid talismans or red flannel bags hoping I won’t get a spell
cast on me! Wouldn't you like that feeling?
Dione Fortune lived in a world of fear, paranoia, superstition, failed
romance, and hallucinations. Why would anyone want what she had?
PAMELA COLEMAN SMITH (1878-1951) She painted the illustrations for
Authur Edward Waite's tarot deck. The illustrations are somewhat crude,
and have been described as being similar to “comic book art” by
critics. Smith never attained success as an artist during her lifetime.
She was a member of the Golden Dawn herself, like Waite.
The Rider-Waite deck became the most popular of all time...but Smith
had died years earlier and never got to enjoy the success. She
passed away penniless and alone in a London flat. She had shared the
flat earlier with a woman whom many have speculated was her lesbian
lover, who died broke too. After Smith’s death, all of her possessions
were sold off to pay her bills. I wonder why the cards didn't warn her?
Maybe she could have ditched the occult for a respectable life instead
of hoping it's powers would have given her life meaning.
Manchen realized the foolishness of the Golden Dawn and left after a
year. I think many occultists love the fanciful Golden Dawn story
because they too would love to go into a used bookstore and find some
rare, obscure book telling them where to contact the secret chiefs. The
rituals of the Golden Dawn would be used in Wicca, as we will read
later. In the 1980's, the last surviving member of the original Golden
Dawn, author Israel Regardie, was asked if there was a successor
organization. Regardie replied there was.
He would not give details to keep the group anonymous, but he said the
order was a group of Wiccans in California. It's unknown if he was
referring to the NOROGD group or not., and there’s no way to know if
the story wasn’t circulated by a NOROGD member to begin with. All the
great and mysterious "secrets" of this order can be obtained by anyone
willing to plunk down $19.95 and buy the Llewellyn giant paperback book
written by former G.:D.: member and Crowley disciple Israel Regardie
just mentioned It seems there is no mysterious occult secret too great
that can't be made into a paperback for big bucks. Cha-ching!
ISRAEL REGARDIE (1907-1985) Briefly a secretary of Crowley, until he
had a falling out with “The Great Beast”. Even fans of Crowley have
pointed out that’s a good thing, considering how most of Crowley’s
followers went insane or committed suicide! Regardie practiced
his own quack version of psychotherapy based on Wilhelm Reich's
writings, and called himself “Dr. Regardie”, even though he only
went to Chiropractic school. Chiropractors are not licensed to be
Psychologists in the U.S., but you can call yourself a "therapist" of
any kind in just about any state and get away with it.
During an alchemy experiment, he burnt his lungs from the fumes and
suffered from breathing problems because of that for the rest of his
life. Alchemy was a quack science in the middle ages that sought to
turn lead into gold and elixirs of eternal youth, and it still seems
people bite on it. Regardie revealed the “secret” rituals of the Golden
Dawn sold today as a huge book published by Llewellyn that sells for
around 30 bucks. So let’s review: he was a quack psychologist, a
secretary to the flop house- junkie “anti-Christ”, and the author of a
book about an occult order that turned out to be a hoax. Got it? People
who own his book own a book about an occult order started by a fake
(Mathers) written by a Chiropractor, who worked for the flophouse
junkie Anti-Christ, but they aren’t “magicians” of any sort.
(c) Uncommon Sense
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