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 The Dawn of a Golden Hoax

       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 Dawn.

 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 obvious nowadays.

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 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 produced one.

    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 conclusions!

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.

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