Greetings Fratres et Sorores!
Don Kraig made a blog post worth reading today over at the Llewellyn website. The bulk of the piece is an overview of the Hermetic Virtues fifth anniversary issue, which I have linked to before. However, he also frames this with an excellent discussion of what makes a magickal Order (or, indeed, any spiritual tradition) a living and growing entity.
As Kraig points out, any tradition undergoes phases of growth and expansion, followed by stagnation and eventually decline and death. Perhaps that is a bit of an oversimplification (there are many subtle phases in between these stages), but it works as a general overview. A living and growing tradition is marked by new ideas and innovation, while a tradition on the decline tends to delve into fundamentalism and outright attacks against anyone who would challenge the established dogma. In other words, a dying tradition tenaciously clings to past glory rather than looking forward to an evolving future.
Having established this, Kraig goes on to discuss the Golden Dawn tradition as something of a curiosity. The G.D. is already more than a century old, and has served as the foundation for much of today’s Western occultism – from Thelema to Wicca and many other systems besides. As such, many have adopted the opinion that the G.D. is an example of a stagnant and dying tradition. Often, when one sees a book on the shelf with the words “Golden Dawn” in the title, it is assumed the book will be filled with “just more of the same old stuff” we’ve seen for the past hundred years.
However, when viewed from the standpoint of Kraig’s definition of the life-cycle of a spiritual tradition, does the G.D. really fit the bill of stagnation? He doesn’t think so – and neither do I!
Today, more than ever before, Golden Dawn authors are publishing new and innovative material. Sometimes this takes the form of fresh looks at traditional concepts (for example, Chic Cicero’s explanation of the G.D. magickal tools, or my own analysis of the godforms of the Outer Hall), and sometimes it takes the form of brand new rituals and techniques (such as Sam Scarborough’s Ritual of Chockmah or Darcy Kuntz’ Summer Solstice Ritual).
All of the above examples are to be found in the latest edition of Hermetic Virtues – and they hardly scratch the surface of the new Golden Dawn material that is coming to light these days. And even that does not cover the kind of innovation taking place within private Temples. As the community grows, there is a vast influx of new material and fresh perspectives into the tradition.
What you see in books like Regardie’s The Golden Dawn is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is, in fact, a vast array of unpublished oral teachings, original rituals, new forms of invocation, private methods and techniques of magick, re-introduced ancient wisdom and more.
All of these things fit better into Kraig’s definition of a tradition in its phase of growth and expansion. The modern Golden Dawn is just now approaching its second generation, and I don’t think we’ve come even close to hitting the top of the bell-curve.
Kraig ended his post with a list of blogs and websites that I sent to him a while back. All of them concern Western Hermeticism – either directly or indirectly related to the Golden Dawn, or at least written by respected Golden Dawn practitioners. I believe these sites are a wonderful illustration of the kind of growth and innovative ideas we are seeing throughout the Golden Dawn Community today. All of these links can be found in the menu on the left-hand side of this blog, but I’ll post the list below for ease of reference:
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Blog
Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn
Hermetic Virtues Magazine
Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
Deanna Bonds – Path to the Stars
Dean Wilson – Mishkan ha Echad
Frater YShY – The Golden Handshake
Frater YShY – The Ruby Rose and Golden Cross
Morgan Drake Eckstein – Gleamings From the Golden Dawn
Olen Rush – Light of a Golden Day
Peregrin Wildoak – Magic of the Ordinary
Rufus Opus – Head For the Red
Societas Rosicruciana in America
Sr FSO – Flight of Hermes
Alex Sumner – Sol Ascendans
Aaron Leitch – Ananael
Eric Sisco – Apotheosis
Enjoy the journey!