Raphael – Secret Chief of the Golden Dawn   23 comments


Archangel Raphel

Archangel Raphel


Greetings Golden Dawnophiles!

Recently, I offered the rather curious revelation that the Golden Dawn Secret Chiefs are, in fact, the spirits, angels and archangels that we call upon in our tradition.  You may have found it strange, too, that I went so far as to name one archangel in particular – Raphael – as the chief Secret Chief of the Order.  Rather than simply tossing such an assertion out into cyberspace and expecting you to take it on faith, I think I should share with you an important gem on the subject from the Order’s written history.

As Golden Dawn historians will tell you, Mathers’ primary contact among the Secret Chiefs was known by the name Frater “Lux e Tenebris” – or “Light out of Darkness.”  Now, everyone take out your copy of R.A. Gilbert’s The Golden Dawn Scrapbook, and open it to pages 37-39.  There you will find the record of a vision had by one of the early adepts of the Order (and member of the S.R.I.A):  T.H. Pattinson, or Frater Vota Vita Mea.  Let me quote the pertinent portions of his vision for you:

Copy of Communication from the Inner Ring, made to Fra. Vota Vita Mea, given in his letter June 20, 1888 to Fra Sapere Aude:

The Crowned One gave to Fras. VVM and H [presumably F.D. Harrison] much information concerning the natural creation…

After this Fra. H was conducted by an Eagle-headed messenger into the presence of the Angel Raphael.  [Mathers adds the marginal notation:  “whom I, S’Rioghail Mo Dhream, know by the motto Lux e Tenebris.”]  He said:

“I wish to speak to you of the Golden Dawn.  The prime mover of it must exercise the keenest possible care, and must not accept people into its secrets who are not Occult Students…  otherwise much Evil Magic will be the result.  […]  The idea in view must be not to establish an Order, but to gather together those men who are an Order unto themselves.  Understand that the Golden Dawn is MY Order and that I am and must be accountable for it.

Emphases in bold are mine.  The vision goes on to other matters that are not vital to this discussion.  Gilbert (p. 39) questions whether Westcott and Mathers would have approved of other adepts receiving messages from the Secret Chiefs.  However, it must be noted that Mathers’ marginal notation clearly indicates that he did indeed accept this vision as valid, and that the entity in the vision was both the archangel Raphael and one and the same as his Secret Chief contact Frater Lux e Tenebris.

And it certainly makes sense, doesn’t it?  The name “Golden Dawn” is a reference to the dawning sun rising in the east – the quarter governed by Raphael in the Order’s cosmology.  It is the place where the visible chiefs of the Temple sit during all initiations.  Raphael, too, is the archangel of Tiphareth – the solar sphere upon the Tree of Life and a major focus of the Order’s work.  Besides, as a Rosicrucian organization, the Golden Dawn’s primary directive should be to “heal the sick, and that gratis.”  And Raphael is no one less than the Physician of God, archangel of all healing and medicine.

If any archangel were to be charged with responsibility for the Order of the Golden Dawn, it seems that Raphael would be the best choice.  And as Frater Lux e Tenebris is in fact the archangel Raphael himself, it tells us much about who the Secret Chiefs really are.

So there you have it – a bit of Golden Dawn obscura to brighten your day.  😉  Enjoy!



Posted April 16, 2012 by kheph777 in golden dawn

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23 responses to “Raphael – Secret Chief of the Golden Dawn

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  1. Pingback: Who is the Secret Chief of the Golden Dawn? | Sol Ascendans – The Website of Alex Sumner

  2. In a similar fashion, I’ve always considered Tahuti (Thoth) to be the ultimate Secret Chief of the Order. (The Egytpian deity that also sits in Tiparet.) No matter who sits in the East, be it Osiris or Horus (our Order considers the Hierophant to represent Horakti/Ra-Hor-Khuit – change of the Aeon and all) but it doesn’t matter in the end. Master of Science and Magic, creater of writing, teacher of humanity, Tahuti is really in charge. He *created* the Order in the first place, and is “accountable” for it. It’s a running joke in my Lodge that Tahuti, ever the Trickster, “tricked” Sam Webster and all of us into founding the OSOGD, something that we never set out consicously to do. What started as an experiment turned into an Order. Because that’s what Tahuti wanted, and He always gets what He wants – by hook or by crook.


    • I find this quite apt, Joe. Plus, I have always considered Raphael and Tahuti as co-equals. Both representing the stuff of Mercury – language, magick, healing, science, medicine, etc. And one certainly cannot deny the place of Tho-oth as the invisible station/deity of the Chiefs of the Order placed in the East.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Aaron, thanks for this, it’s beautiful. Rather inconvenient for some modern GD claimants who are trying to redefine the Secret Chiefs to be in-the-flesh-humans from continental European allegedly Rosicrucian secret societies.


  4. I find it fascinating how all of this fits together. Raphael… Thoth… both have strong associations with both Mercury and the Sun. And we are, after all, talking about the Hermetic Tradition – Hermes being yet another being with both Mercurial and Solar attributes.


  5. I agree that in this letter MacGregor Mathers clearly identifies the motto L.e.T with “Angel R+” (which btw is pure speculation on Mr. Gilbert’s part inferring to be “Raphael”; we have no way of knowing that it actually is. On the contrary, if you follow tradition the signature R+ rather points to “Angel Rosy Cross” as a more plausible identity). Let me however present an alternative theory regarding the motto ‘Lux e Tenebris’, which MacGregor Mathers continued to used whenever he spoke of his later in the flesh Secret Chief which he met in Paris, anticipating Mathers and his wife finally moving to Paris a year later in 1892. For me it seems more plausible that MacGregor Mathers used the ‘Lux e Tenebris’ phrase as a generic motto or “decknamen” for whatever Secret Chief or source of inspiration he had come into contact with or believed in at a certain point. After the meeting with his physical Secret Chief in Paris he started to apply that motto onto him. Later on there started to spread a false rumour that the identity of L.e.T. was a Dr. Thiessen of Liege, who supposedly died in 1909. However, it’s a well known fact amongst initiates that the L.e.T. motto is a blind, and that the real motto and true identity of MacGregor Mathers’ continental Secret Chief is still secret to this day.



  6. Except that Mathers, in the notation, clearly states that he knows *the Angel R+* by the motto “Lux e Tenebris”. And even if your theory were correct, we still have Mathers referring to an archangel as a Secret Chief. 😉


    • Yes, he did refer L.e.T. to Angel R+ (I acknowledged that in my message), however we also know that he later used that motto for his later Chief in Paris whom he claimed to have met in the flesh and which later Felkin connected to the human Dr. Thiessen. So this rather points to the plausibility of it being an often reused “decknamnen” as I suggested. He never restated that L.e.T. of the 1890’s where Angel R+ (note that the letter by Thomas Henry Pattison was written in 1888, i.e. long before Mathers had claimed to have received his own contact with the Secret Chief in 1891).



      • Pattinson’s original letter to Westcott was written in June ’88 but the heading indicates this is a copy of information contained in that letter, not the letter itself. We don’t at present know when it was compiled, why it was shown to Mathers, when Mathers added his comments or for what purpose. I could argue, for instance, that the comments were made when Mathers spent a week or so visiting Pattinson in Bradford in 1898, but can offer no proof; it’s speculation. If we focus simply on the known facts—the year of Mathers’ claimed contact with LeT—then on the balance of probability the comment was added after 1891.


  7. Thank you for this. I have not yet collected Gilbert, I guess it is time. I am slowly feeling less and less worried about having ignored books about GD history and focused on things like the Abramelin ritual and Dee. Having to now wade into and sift through the mire that is GD politics for the promise of hidden knowledge seemingly stolen from other sources I studied unfettered by regulations and secrets has seemed a huge distraction and waste of time, one I had previously avoided, but if I am going to do it, I should do it well. I just wish there was more mysticism and less private club bull in how the forms are taught… I mean, I hear only about who is oldest and right and most connected with papers and who is less special or titled but never about why something might be more effective or potent for different uses in magic, period, because no-one breaks down the work scientifically, they just spit it up like brainless cultists competing to be most special. I. Don’t. Care. This blog is a relief because it uses CITATION and references how it would apply to work, instead of inferring it has the ‘real secrets’ if you pay and obey, or striving to be best loyalist to a few dead egos. If someone will not plainly cite to me and send me off to study further, but instead suggests I should have ‘faith’ or ‘obey’ mindlessly, I feel immediately I have failed to find a place of intelligence and value. Is this really a ‘modern mindset’ or has mass advertising devolved mystic study to competing tree fort status and petty cults of secrecy?

    I am amused by this because of the prior predominance of contact from spirits under Tiphereth and ruled by Raphael I ended up meeting at the very beginning, in my teens, years ago, how they ruled my practice and direction and helped with my Abramelin success, and how all this time I never realized why. The idea that when simply immersed in study in solitude I had already gone these paths unknowingly is kind of heartwarming actually. It gives me a reason to pursue GD based on my real mystical experience and not on talking heads, such a true relief. This post makes me happy.


  8. The founders of the GD thought highly enough of the reputation and authority of the Bavarian Illuminati that they invented an AISB Adept, Fr. Sprengele, and arranged for her to provide them with a (forged) charter to “legitimize” the Order. Other than the actual training program they created, anything written by the 1st generation adepts should be taken with more than a grain of salt – most especially anything pertaining to “power politics” such as the identity of the Masters by whose hands one or another was raised to supreme authority, and received the “final word” on any point of controversy in Order governance.

    Today, there is a very clear line between those whose only claim to “authority” is within the ranks of a particular working group in accordance with its own by-laws, and those who proclaim that they have been given a Mission from God to straighten out the human race in general, and certain group of Occult organizations in particular. The former enjoy whatever reputation and credibility they have gained on the strength of their real contributions to the community; the latter rely on the reflected glory of their exalted imaginary playmates and a bewildering array of self-conferred titles and honors. It is easy enough for anyone who is really interested to identify which are which.

    Who are the real Secret Chiefs of the Golden Dawn? They are the Archangels of the Sephiroth, providing points of contact and the possibility of sensible communication with the Divine Aspects they front for. Along with the Name of God pertinent to the work at hand, they are invoked in every formal “Golden Dawn style” initiation and ritual. Either the Golden Dawn and everyone in it is under their governance, or the GD is a failed enterprise. This is another way of saying that Ceremonial Magic either works or does not.


    • @Steve Kinney: The idea that Westcott/Mathers/Woodman considered Fraulien Sprengel as an Adept of the AISB is an interesting idea, and does make a lot of sense. Are there any direct or even oblique references to the AISB in any of the early Order papers?

      The actual documents of the AISB (as revealed by the Bavarian government authorities after their crackdown on the Order) offer sound advice of how all members of all Illuminated Orders should conduct themsleves. As written by Adam Weishaupt:

      “He that does not shut his cars against the lamentations of the unhappy, nor his heart to compassion; he that is a friend and a brother to the sufferer; he that loves all creatures, that he that does not crush knowingly a worm that creeps beneath his feet; he that has a heart for love and friendship, is firm in affliction, indefatigable in his exertions to accomplish a good design which he has begun to pursue, and is not to be dismayed by difficulties; he that does not scorn his weaker brother; he whose soul is capable of forming great designs, and who burns to exalt himself above all mean self-interest, and to perform great acts of benevolence; he that is an enemy to idleness, and slights no kind of knowledge which he has an opportunity of acquiring, but makes Man the principal object of his studies; he that for the sake of truth can sacrifice the applause of the multitude, and has courage enough to obey the dictates of his heart — this man is fit for our society.”


  9. The falsity of this argument connecting the emissary of the Third Order with a discarnate origin in Raphael does not change the Raphaelic and Tahutian Currents that so clearly infuse the GD at source – the Hermetic Tradition itself manifests in these energetic terms… Is it then so surprising that the physical presence of THE representative of a true and ancient European Hermetic School should carry that same energy to a very marked degree?

    Let me simplify by pasting up the etymological roots:


    14c. fusion of O.E. engel (with hard -g-) and O.Fr. angele, both from L. angelus, from Gk. angelos “messenger, envoy, one that announces,” possibly related to angaros “mounted courier,” both from an unknown Oriental word (Watkins compares Skt. ajira- “swift;” Klein suggests Semitic sources). Used in Scriptural translations for Heb. mal’akh (yehowah) “messenger (of Jehovah),” from base l-‘-k “to send.” An Old English word for it was aerendgast, lit. “errand-spirit.” Of persons, “loving; lovely,” by 1590s. The medieval gold coin (a new issue of the noble, first struck 1465 by Edward VI) was so called for the image of archangel Michael slaying the dragon, which was stamped on it. It was the coin given to patients who had been “touched” for the King’s Evil. Angel food cake is from 1881; angel dust “phencyclidine” is from 1968.

    Specifically: “messenger, envoy, one that announces,” would have been an origin entirely well known to a linguist like Mathers.

    L.e.T. is a messenger, and envoy from the Third Order!
    It is a Rosicrucian Order, and the signature R+ is well known in those circles.
    These facts are the simple story.

    Mathers was required to protect his source. The difference in quality between the material given by L.e.T. and that created directly by Mathers is also clear.

    Mathers did play mystification games of “keep up with the theosophists” in speaking of his astral encounters, though these were no doubt also based in genuine experiences.

    L.e.T. is also R+ by dint of his signature as an Adept of the RC, but L.e.T. is an Angel, by dint of being the emissary. Simple!

    The complexities in the rest of this debate are no better than guesswork used to prop up personal opinions, and I think William of Occam would agree.



    Aletheia Baskanos
    • @Aletheia: “Mathers was required to protect his source. The difference in quality between the material given by L.e.T. and that created directly by Mathers is also clear.”

      The simple fact that Mathers’ works are variable in quality is not necessarily proof that all of the “good stuff” was from an outside source. Any creative person can tell you that sometimes they create masterpieces, and sometimes they come up with pure, unadulterated merde. John Lennon composed “A Day In The Life” and “Imagine”, but he also crapped out The Wedding Album. Sometimes the Muse makes love with you and feeds you peeled grapes, and sometimes She’d rather be out with the girls drinking mimosas and leaving you to burn your own damn dinner. Muses are fickle like that.

      Or as the Sage said, “When you’re hot you’re hot, and when you’re not your not.”


  10. Personally I’d say the difference in quality is variable for Mathers until we come to the stuff that is suddenly beyond Genius! You are absolutely right that the Muse is fickle – and once the Parisian “muse” L.e.T. ended the relationship there was nothing approaching that quality in any future work.

    I am not saying that Mathers had no sublime astral inspirations either – one would hope so given that he was engaged in the Hermetic Work! I also know that such Inspiration continues in our vital Tradition. It may have started for us with L.e.T. but the Tradition itself is eternal, and we are all engaged in it, whatever our Order.

    I see the simple answer in the physically incarnate Chiefs, because I have met enough empowered Adepts to know what is possible, and it has always made sense to me that our Founders were still out there.

    That I now have proof sufficient to demonstrate that they are back in contact is of course very satisfying, but I am sure that had I spent my entire occult life believing that they were just a myth then it would have been harder for me to be open minded.


    Aletheia Baskanos
    • After composing Les Illuminations, Aurthur Rimbaud stopped writing poetry when he was twenty-one years old. This is not an unheard of phenomenon.


      • Joe Maxx,

        Same with all the metaphysical poets save Blake and Wordsworth, all were most productive in their early 20’s.



    • Aletheia,

      You are more than welcome to post here and discuss the topics at hand. Whether or not I agree with your theories and ideas is certainly not an issue. In fact, your pointing out that “R+” could very well be an angel other than Raphael is a good example of fine scholarly debate. However, claims to having “proof” that “real” human Secret Chiefs exist and are in communication with you or your Order are inappropriate. If true, it is a mystery to be guarded by your Order and not brought up in public at all. It would be the height of disrespect for me to demand you share that proof, so let’s leave that kind of thing for other blogs. 🙂

      This, of course, goes for everyone. I will trim away any further posts that make metnion of such things. I do not wish to pry into what is oathbound within anyone’s Order or Temple anymore than I will tolerate someone prying into mine.

      On the other hand, you are free to debate whether or not Mathers and the original G.D. were in contact with human Secret Chiefs. (I am of the opinion that they were not, and were being guided by the same spiritual Chiefs we have been discussing here. Such as the angel “R+” – who I do believe to have been Raphael.)


  11. One thing comes to mind when I think of Raphael being the same name as a physical person Mathers knew as a Chief, Perhaps Raphael was indeed the re-mediator between the secret chief and Mathers, if we take into consideration that by religious dogma or doctrine that the angels were striped of the ability to manifest physical human form after the fall.
    Mathers says( know by the motto), as by representation of a messenger perhaps. Take into consideration that the Angels have little authority over human fate or choice and you can see that this maybe the situation indeed. Raphael is a servant of the God principle not the ruler or chief. Initiates of higher caliber evoke Raphael and other Angels in the seat of the God principle and are not under the rule of those they summon with Divine providence.

    Regards, Jerrud


  12. Do you guys see an angel in this video? Any ideas what kind of angel?

    I believe the photos begin around 4:13


  13. Pingback: The Secret of ‘The Magus’ Revealed! | Sol Ascendans – The Website of Alex Sumner

  14. Pingback: Archangel Raphael – Patron of Healers | Seer Pathways

  15. Reblogged this on Grand Temple of Horus Behdety.


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