Respecting the Regardie Lineage   15 comments

Greetings fellow ‘Dawners!  It is time for a brand new rant!

Israel Regardie

Israel Regardie

Regardie-bashing has become a fad, and I’ve had quite enough of it.

This is a problem I have seen growing for a long time now.  But before I get into that, let me give some background:

The modern Golden Dawn movement got its start when Chic Cicero founded the new Isis-Urania Temple in the late 1970s.  Before long, he established contact with the man who – at the time – was believed to be the last living adept of the old Order: Dr. Israel Regardie.  Chic was building a new Vault of the Adepti, and he wanted Regardie to come by and inspect it for him.  In the end, Regardie not only inspected it, but also performed the Consecration of the Vault and the first initiations within it.  With that, the modern Golden Dawn was born, with initiatory lineage through Regardie back to the old order.  Chic dubbed his new order the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and it stands today as the oldest, largest and most successful G.D. organization in history.  (It has far out-stripped the original order, which only existed between 1888 and 1903.  And will soon be older than the post-schism orders of Stella Maturina and Alpha et Omega – both of which had all but vanished by the Second World War.  There was also a third order that descended from the Stella Matutina and lasted much longer – but we’ll get to them later.)

HOGD Vault of the Adepti

HOGD Vault of the Adepti

However, keep in mind that Chic was/is an American occultist.  He wasn’t too interested in being a guru, handing down dogmatic mysteries to be consumed by an adoring and unthinking cult.  He wasn’t out to impress you with the deep mysteries he knows but refuses to share with you (due to “oaths”).  Instead, he wanted his order to grow and thrive and for the Western Mysteries to be available to anyone who takes interest in them.  To that end, he and his wife Sandra Tabatha Cicero (who would quickly become one of the Order’s three chiefs) have produced an impressive library of books about the Golden Dawn and Hermeticism.

Now over 30 years have passed, and the result of the Ciceros’ dedication and hard work are plain for all to see.  Beyond the many existing HOGD Temples around the world, there are now dozens of different G.D.-based orders or independent Temples out there.  Most of them have some connection to the Ciceros’ group – many were founded by former HOGD adepts, and/or are using the Golden Dawn name and system under our trademark.  (This is freely-given legal protection, so others can run their Temples without fear of lawsuits from those who would “own” the Golden Dawn for themselves.)  All of them have their own unique “take” on or approach to the system, but there is no Golden Dawn group in existence who has not benefited from the vast corpus of written material published by the Ciceros.

Chic Cicero and Israel Regardie

Chic Cicero and Israel Regardie

Tabatha Cicero and Israel Regardie

Tabatha Cicero and Israel Regardie (dirty old man!)

But this was supposed to be about Regardie, right?  It is true that none of us would be here talking about the Golden Dawn today if it were not for Chic and Tabatha Cicero.  Yet, if you ask them who they have to thank, you can bet the answer will be Israel Regardie.  Having initiated into the Stella Matutina branch of the order just before the War, he bore witness to its decline and eventual fall.  He knew that something drastic must be done to save the material from vanishing into obscure history – finally deciding to publish as much of the Order’s papers as he could gather.  The few members who were still hanging on were polarized by this action:  some of them were affronted that Regardie would break his oaths of secrecy and “profane” the Order’s secrets.  Others were actually happy to have a printed version of the Grade Lectures and other material that, previously, had to be copied by hand.  (To get a feel for this last point, just grab your copy of Regardie’s The Golden Dawn – yes, I know you have one – and imagine sitting down to hand copy the whole thing.)

Regardie’s book had a massive impact on the modern Western occult revival.  Long before Chic Cicero came along, the book was being mined by Neopagans, Thelemites and just about every Western occult or mystical group you could name.  (Margot Adler mentions this in Drawing Down the Moon.)  And, it was that very book that inspired Chic Cicero to build his own Temple.  Regardie came to see that Temple (and its newly-constructed Vault) and ended up giving legitimacy to what might have been little more than a camp of Thelemites and strippers in Georgia.  Regardie became the initiatory link between the new Order and the old.

Give all of the above, it might seem strange that anyone involved in anything Golden Dawn would feel it necessary to bash Regardie – and by extension to insult my entire Order and lineage.  Yet, it is happening, and I suspect it is mostly because the HOGD is so large and successful.  Given its authoritative position in the greater G.D. Community, it is sadly human nature to want to “take it down a peg.”  Some take the route of attacking Chic and Tabatha directly – though that’s a slippery slope because they are: a) beloved by nearly everyone and b) still alive.  Regardie, meanwhile, is just some old guy who died before many of you were born (or, in my case, when I was just a little kid).  He’s an easy target.  Thus, we hear much about what an awful oath-breaker he was, or how he didn’t really hold the Grade we thought, or how he had no institutional authority to found a new Order, or that he never participated in any rituals, or that he was once a jerk to some of his Temple chiefs, etc, etc.  Why I’ve even been told, point blank, that Regardie had no lineage to give!

And this is what I’ve been watching over the past few years.  Specifically, it seems to be the popular thing now to be a Golden Dawner but to eschew Regardie entirely.  He got it all wrong, they say.  We have the real mysteries, they claim.  They refer with disdain to the “Regardie upstart orders” and pretend that they represent the “real” Golden Dawn while the rest of us are merely children at play.  It is insulting – not just to Regardie, but to the Ciceros and to my Order.

One of my largest areas of concern lies with another Golden Dawn group – that third off-shoot Order I mentioned but failed to name above.  However, before I do I want to make something very clear:  I’m about to start talking about some good people, and I don’t want to give the slightest impression that I have a problem with any of them or all of them collectively.  For the rest of what you are going to read, please understand my tone is that of a brother bitching about his brothers – there’s nothing but love beneath it, and if you have anything bad to say about them we can step outside.  😉  So, on with it:

The group in question is generally known by the name Whare Ra – though that was the name of the building housing their Mother Temple, while the temple’s official name was Smaragdum Thallasses (Emerald of the Sea).  This was chartered in New Zealand as Temple #49 of the Stella Matutina, and (after the collapse of the rest of the SM) became the Order’s Mother Temple.  Of the original Golden Dawn Orders (G.D., Stella Matutina, Alpha et Omega and Whare Ra), it can be said without question that Whare Ra was the most successful.  Unlike its sister temples it did not close during WWII (thanks to being tucked safely away in New Zealand), and in fact continued to operate until the late 1970s.  (Chic was building his Temple in America just as Whare Ra was closing its doors.)  Their only failing – and they likely didn’t see it as such – was that they never opened further Temples and eventually stagnated before closing.

Ware Ra Vault of the Adepti

Whare Ra Vault of the Adepti

Fortunately, we know about Whare Ra today because the Order’s adepts didn’t stop being adepts merely because their Temple stopped holding meetings.  Some of the elderly adepts continued to teach and share their mysteries with others who were pursuing the Golden Dawn tradition.  You may recognize a couple of their names – like Jack Taylor and Frank Salt.  While those men have long-since passed away, their students (even if never initiated into Whare Ra itself) have propagated their teachings.  Just a few short years after the HOGD was established by Regardie (who we only thought was the last living adept!), Pat Zalewski made it publically known that the Whare Ra lineage still existed.

That’s a good thing, right?  Damn straight it is!

But this leaves us with a bit of a problem: culture clash.  The Whare Ra people are not American, and they aren’t so fast and loose with information as the Ciceros and those who follow in their footsteps.  They enjoy that old-world feel for their mysteries.  They love their secrecy, and their adept links to the past (Salt and Taylor) never went public like Regardie did.  I would say that, for the most part, the Whare Ra people – folks like Pat and Chris Zalewski and Tony Fuller – feel as if they represent the last vestiges of the old Golden Dawn in the world today.

Before I continue, let me be perfectly clear yet again:  neither the Zalewskis nor Fuller are out there bashing Regardie.  That’s part of a larger trend that I think I covered well enough in the rant above.  No, my real concern with the Whare Ra folks is that I all too often feel an “us vs. them” tone in what they say.  Though never stated outright, they can come across as if they believe they are the “real” Golden Dawn while everyone else is “just following Regardie’s books” and can therefore be dismissed.  The Whare Ra lineage doesn’t seem to have any love to lose for Regardie (it was one of them who stated Regardie had no lineage to give) and it comes through in what they say and write.

As most of you probably know, there have been a few internet trolls out there who have spent the last couple of decades trying to convince us all there are “warring factions” in the Golden Dawn.  You’ve heard of “trademark wars” that in fact never happened.  You’ve heard of decades-long flame wars, though no one can ever find the culprits.  As I have stated over and again, this is all complete bunk.  True Golden Dawn orders do not compete for members, nor do they even hold recruitment drives.  (If you ever encounter a G.D. group that advertises or pressures you to join, just walk away.)  And as for “warring factions”, the fact is that in reality the various G.D. Orders work together nicely and even do projects together.  Yeah, I know that’s pretty damned boring in comparison to the fantasy that we are all powerful wizards having battles with one another in cyberspace and on the astral plane.  Sorry…

But now I am concerned that we could be witnessing the rise of two actual factions of the Golden Dawn:  American/HOGD and European/Whare Ra.  Ideally, these would simply be two schools of the G.D. (and for now they are), but I use the word “faction” because there is a very real danger we could end up enemies.  Not that I can imagine Pat Zalewski or Tony Fuller ever declaring themselves enemies of the Cicero school, but I do fear that if the “us vs. them” tone continues, we could see hostilities develop between the two schools within a generation or two.

I don’t believe for a second that the Whare Ra lineage represents the “real” Golden Dawn at the expense of the Regardie lineage.  And, quibble all you want over whether Regardie was ZAM or ThAM, I do not buy the concept that he had no lineage to give.  (Sure he wasn’t a 7=4 when he founded the HOGD, but then Mathers and Westcott weren’t 7=4 when they founded the G.D. either.  Hell they weren’t even 5=6 – but that’s another discussion.)  Regardie, flawed as he was, is our initiatory link with the old order – he’s our prophet or patron saint, if you will – just as Frank Salt and Jack Taylor are for the Whare Ra camp.

Let’s give all of these old dudes the credit they deserve – for without them what would any of us be doing right now?  And, can we please remember to respect each other and treat one another as brothers?  Yes, that means we’ll duke it out from time to time – but let us never ever allow it to become warring factions, or have one group look down its nose at the other.

If you want to see the Facebook thread that started all of this, see Regardie’s Supposed ThAM Grade by Tony Fuller.  (It’s tone irked me, but he really does make a good historical point about one of Regardie’s papers.)  Plus, Nick Farrell has also responded to this discussion with is own thoughts about Whare Ra and the dangers of factions arising in the G.D.:  Whare Ra and the Modern Golden Dawn.

Stay strong in the LVX, brothers!  🙂

Zorge,

Aaron

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15 responses to “Respecting the Regardie Lineage

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  1. As one of the New Zealand alive groups, that does connect, not so much trace, it’s linage to the Whare Ra, (the wh is pronounced as a slightly accented ‘F’ from the Maori word for house, (Ra being the sun). …. What are you talking about Aaron. Who needs boot in the bum and sent back to the history lectures that are supposed to be c cemented in pre-membership prior to 0=0, and be solidly familiar by the end of the students 1=10.
    The Felkins do have good material, much of the New Zealand sources have original documents from the original Whare Ra days…but we use Regardies books, and the Cisco book is a great resource (and has an index!!) and is much expanded on the true GD skeleton in all ways that are good.
    If I hear some bashing on going in local circles some people are going to have explaining to do….

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  2. I didn’t get that Tony was bashing Regardie in that post, he was simply proving that Regardie was not a ThAM (which has been claimed in the past). It makes no difference to the modern GD story – he had the grade to initiate and that is what he did.

    Where you and I disagree is the importance of Regardie to the story. Other than publishing the Golden Dawn material I don’t think that he had that much impact on the way the Modern Golden Dawn took off. That was purely down to the work of Chic and Tabatha Cicero. The course material in the HOGD is not Regardie’s book – but real Golden Dawn material analysed by Chic, Tabatha and the Praemonstrator of the Order. When it comes to Golden Dawn experience Chic and Tabatha trump Regardie every time.

    In Roman Catholic tradition the idea of making saint’s is somewhat dubious at the best of times and there are all sorts of people who are not worthy which have made it to saints.. But I do not hold that Regardie is a saint in this whole story in any way .

    There are saints in the Modern Golden Dawn. They are the people without support (at times from their own Order) who made the sacrifices and actually did the work. So perhaps rather than looking to Regardie as the patron saints of the Golden Dawn you should look at the people who actually studied it, actually did the work and actually got the modern order started for that title – Chic and Tabatha Cicero. They will disagree with me on that point, because they have done a lot in the name of Regardie, but in my view more than he ever did.

    Face it who would you prefer to be told about the practical elements of the 0=0… Regardie who only saw one before the 1970s (his own) or Chic and Tabatha who have done hundreds.

    Remember if we were following Saint Regardie we would be doing the watchtowers every day instead of the grade rituals and making our vaults out of transparent paper. As it is the Modern GD is suffering from the fact that his psychological approach contaminated its approach to inner work and thanks to the popularity of his book a few too many groups have started which should never have done so.

    As I said on my blog being trained by Whare Ra people does not make you a Pope of the Golden Dawn (and to be fair the two main protagonists Tony and Pat never act like that) but it does give you access to some important missing keys.

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    • Thanks for the reply, Nick. 🙂

      And to make sure I’m perfectly clear yet again – I don’t think Tony was bashing Regardie in that post. Nor do I see Pat doing it. I brought them in because they are currently the face(s) of the Whare Ra lineage, but I’m more worried about the direction it’s headed than anything those guys are doing right now.

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  3. Aaron I think it ’s worth pointing out Tony’s from March:

    “Some of the issues which arise routinely in debates about the Golden Dawn are satisfactorily addressed, in my view, in many of the GD Flying Rolls (a term, incidentally, taken from the Old Testament). One such is Westcott’s Flying Roll No. XV, “Man and God” which has some excellent answers to such thorny topics as lineage, evil, the purpose of the Golden Dawn, and the relationship between religion and a magical Order like the GD.”

    A few relevant excerpts from Flying Roll XV:

    The G.D. teaching has reference mainly to Religion and to Philosophy; but it is of course obvious that our Rituals are but outlines and landmarks in the world of thought.The vacant spaces each member fills for himself or leaves blank….

    Whence these rituals come, through whom they come, and even who are our present Temple Chiefs are all matters of secondary interest. The personal element of rule is but a question of the arrangements of time, place and finance, and there is no claim of authority by any beyond the accepted Ritual.

    In my honor to the Order in which I bear a part, I have always made the clearest distinction between the Ancient Ritual and our modern comments, and this distinction you must always bear in mind, for it must not be considered that the doctrines of any single elder or ruler are necessarily all true to the Hermetic faith. All individuals go astray even if some go farther than others.

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  4. It would be very unfortunate Aaron – and indeed I would be mortified if my post on Regardie had any adverse effects. That was never its intention. As I replied on an earlier FB post I believe the HOGD to be undeniably the most successful modern GD Order and this is down entirely to the dedication, zeal and integrity of Chic, Tabby, yourself and indeed other Chiefs. And I would never countenance in the slightest any ridiculous claim for saying the Whare Ra legacy is “superior’ to the Regardie legacy, or similar. Indeed, I would like to see us as one Order with a diverse historical legacy that has enriched our collective legacy. The immense and useful work of Chic, Tabby and yourself stands solidly on its own merits. The one ‘but’ I have is that I do firmly believe (irritating as it may be) that just as increasingly all information is being brought out into the public sphere (following Regardie’s own example here) this should mean all – sometimes with regards to occult leaders (and I am not referring to Regardie) there is an all too common and unhealthy, in my view, tendency to create myths about them which are simply not true – they fly in the face of known facts. When future students and aspirants – academic and esoteric alike – come to their subjects I want them to see the unvarnished facts. But I am sure you agree with this. Anyway apologies if my post created an unnecessary tension – that was truly not my aim.

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    • We talked in private, but I’ll state for the record here that there are no hard feelings, and I didn’t see your post as an attack on Regardie. While I may bristle at what I see as a growing “anti-Regardie” trend among some, I also don’t want to give the slightest impression that I would venerate Regardie by withholding or denying historical fact. Your post was actually a good example – examining the signature on his Enochian paper. So long as we are all brothers and not attempting to one-up each other, I believe the truth about all of our past leaders should be known. Gods know not a single one of them were without (major, not small) personality flaws.

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  5. Anytime you have multiple groups occupying the same or similar niches, the natural result is going to be a rivalry of some sort. Of course, because magic is something that benefits immensely from sharing and promotes themes like harmony and universality, I’d say magical groups should have an enormous advantage in preventing such rivalries from springing up.

    As for Regardie, I don’t pay too much attention to what your average random Facebook commenter says about him in this or that Facebook post. I do think he is largely responsible for the modern view that magic is just a weird form of psychology/psychotherapy, and I know this is the biggest criticism against him from people like Nick and Pat who are not merely bashing him but have specific problems with certain aspects of his approach. Any rightful logical criticism is absolutely necessary, and the more influential a leader is/was, the more necessary such criticism is because no one is perfect, yet there are always going to be aspirants who blindly follow the instructions of any leader or authority, valid or invalid. Needless to say, he was instrumental in preserving the knowledge and techniques of the GD, and putting the material out there for people to use however they want. Whatever ways people might abuse his knowledge, the same could be done with any other magical knowledge, GD or not.

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    • Virgil – I agree! Don’t let my ruffled feathers over the general subject of Regardie make it seem like I oppose any and all criticism of him. As you likely know, one of my biggest missions as an occult author and teacher is to conteract the “magick as psychology” model that Regardie helped establish. (I don’t think he was alone, but he certainly popularized it more than anyone else!) Regardie made some other grave errors that I won’t go into here. And, no, he was not the best person in the world to pass on the Golden Dawn Tradition due to his lack of training in it. (Though, as I’ve said elsewhere, that wasn’t really the point at the time Chic met him.)

      I referred to Regardie as the “patron Saint” of the HOGD – not (as Nick Farrell mistook) to mean he is “a saint” by literal definition (he had his own feet of clay!), but more to indicate his position in the “pantheon” of our Order.

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  6. Aaron, let us not sow the seeds of division by talking about “two factions of the Golden Dawn”, but lets talk instead as Aaron Leitch and Kasmillos. I believe I am the protagonist in this instance, rather than Pat Zalewski or Tony Fuller who have been caught in the crossfire, which you have rightly been trying to clarify. I should have picked up earlier your building concern when you made a remark elsewhere a few months back regarding Frank Salt and nipped it in the bud.

    As you know I joined the fray less than a year ago, out of the blue, with the intention of providing an alternative view about the ‘Golden Dawn’ where this differed from common conceptions. Not surprisingly, in many instances, this simply echoed what Pat and Tony have been saying for years, but sometimes using different language, and in a few instances being more pointed.

    Like your Order, a similar Order was established in New Zealand in the 1980’s, with the tacit support of two ex-Chiefs of the S.T., a handful of ex-S.T. members who provided original papers etc, and Frank Salt as the Hierophant and Chief Adept. This Order took the traditional sub rosa route, and has been operating thus ever since. So if the spirit of the Golden Dawn left the shores of New Zealand and took residence in the work of Chick and Tabby Cicero in 1977, then enough residual spirit was also left behind in some of the senior ex-members of ‘Whare Ra’ to continue in small numbers, quietly, while the furor unfolded elsewhere.

    After 30 odd years of operating sub rosa, a change in tact has been decided on, and I have been provided with a dispensation to add my voice and commentary on my personal experiences in knowing some of these old ex-S.T. members, and having applied the system with 8 years under Frank Salt. This has not been a frivolous decision, and I do so at the risk of prostituting my own Soul, at the risk of violating my Oaths, and at the risk of dividing my energy between the Golden Dawn Community and my Order and my students.

    There will be times when what I say will go against the grain, but this must simply be taken on the chin, just as the New Zealand members have been taking it on the chin with what has emerged post 1980’s Golden Dawn. Frank Salt would honestly be rolling in his grave, and I would be hard pressed to think of any of the old members that wouldn’t be doing the same. However, these people had their time, and in many instances failed to adapt to the changing environment. The modern Golden Dawn has done just that, and rather remarkably.

    If you wish to provide another view, then please do so. After operating for 30+ years I am sure you and your Order have a great deal to share even if it goes against the grain of what I know. Frank Salt would have said that activity is evidence of the presence of Spirit, and the facts you present on the merits of your Order speak for themselves.

    Rest assured that the New Zealand Order will never participate in an “us versus them” and can never be “enemies” as you warn in your article. Hopefully my words and actions demonstrate a more noble spirit.

    Fraternally yours,

    Kasmillos

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    • Kas, I can assure you that my post(s) on this matter are not directed at, based upon or even inspired by any individual. It’s my reaction to a larger trend I see in our community.

      Perhaps you might understand why I take issue with your stance that Frank Salt would be “rolling in his grave” at “post-80s Golden Dawn.” I never knew him, and perhaps he *is* rolling in his grave over it – but your statement is less a window into the attitudes of Frank Salt and more of a repudiation of my lineage and tradition (which happens to be post-80s Golden Dawn).

      Just as you have taken on the mission to present the “other side” of the Golden Dawn to the world, so have I taken the mission to demand respect for my camp. As you stated, the Ciceros built a Golden Dawn Order that was adapted for the 20th-21st century, and it matters very little to us if Frank Salt wouldn’t like it.

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      • Aaron,

        While I can empathize with the concern about overall peace and forward thinking planning for amity, I disagree that there is a trend to cause a divide between the various traditions.

        People buy each others books, chat online, etc. They all seem to get along. If anything, or would help if some of us were more clear which ceremonies they are discussing or working, AO, GD, SM, etc.

        There’s a few intense personalities that are a bit more dramatic than necessary, but then again, occultists tend to be eccentric.

        The way I see it, this is the golden age for collaboration.

        YShY

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      • Greetings, Frater

        Oh I fully agree we are in a golden age of collaboration! A large point of my post here is that I don’t want to see us lose that by slipping back into the old-fashioned game of spiritual/intellectual one-upmanship.

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  7. Reblogged this on Sanctuary of Horus Behdety.

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  8. Pingback: Linkage: Beds, names, and the Golden Dawn || Spiral Nature

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