Greetings fellow ‘Dawners! It is time for a brand new rant!
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
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
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.
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!
Greetings to my students!
After I gave my Ceremonial Magick classes in North Carolina (six classes of material packed into two sessions!), one of my students asked me to take her to the store’s bookshelves and show her my best recommendations for further reading. Now, back home in Florida, we are reaching the last few classes of the course – where we finally begin to take all the basic rituals, correspondences and theory and put them together in rituals of practical magick. Once we are done, I suspct my current students are also going to want resources for further reading and study.
Even outside of my classes, I know many of you reading this blog are solitary practitioners. And I’m sure you would also like to know which books I recommend to futher your understanding of the Western Mystery Tradition and the practice of Hermetic Ceremonial Magick.
So, I’ve made this blog entry for both groups of students and practitioners. Much like the post I made concerning books about Babylonian and Semitic myth and magick, I will here gather the titles that I have found most useful in my own Ceremonial Magick studies – both when I was a solitary seeker and even still today.
We are very fortunate today, in that we have dozens of great resources that seekers in previous generations have had to do without. I hope you will find this list useful in your studies.
The Essential Golden Dawn : An Introduction to High Magic – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
A great general introduction to the Western Mystery Tradition as a whole. It traces the historical development of the WMT and introduces the student to many of the basic theories and philosophies behind our magick. Some of the basic rituals are also included.
Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts – Donald Michael Kraig
This is where it all started for me! When I was handed my first copy of this book, I was already practicing my own intuitive forms of magick (much akin to Hoodoo, really). But after just one look inside this book, I knew I had found something vastly important and powerful. I made up my mind then and there to put myself through the (at the time) Eleven Lessons – and the rest is history. This is not specifically a “Golden Dawn” text, but it does focus on Golden Dawn rituals and techniques, and I highly recommend it as an introduction to the practical side of the Hermetic Arts.
Self-Initiation Into the Golden Dawn Tradition: A Complete Curriculum of Study for Both the Solitary Magician and the Working Magical Group – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
The Ciceros created this resource with the solitary practitioner in mind. They gathered a very large amount of the Grade curriculum of the Outer Order of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, then expanded it with extra-curricular study material. Then they created a ritual process of Self Initiation by which the solitary seeker can progress through the Grade material. The Self Initiation rituals will certainly not make you a member of an Order, but they will introduce you to the forces invoked in each Grade of the Outer Order. There are even quizzes at the end of each Grade, so you’ll know when you’ve incorperated enough knowledge to move on to the lessons of the next Grade. This textbook is so useful, it is even used as a study guide by students of the H.O.G.D. itself.
Secrets of a Golden Dawn Temple – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
There have been several different editions of this text under different names. You can also find the material split between Creating Magical Tools and Ritual Use of Magical Tools. The above-linked version is the one I found and used many many years ago – in fact I think it was the first Cicero book I ever owned. It outlines in exhaustive detail how to build all the tools, furniture, robes, talismans and other ritual paraphernalia associated with Golden Dawn magick. Though you certainly won’t have to build everything you find in this book to practice at home, it contains enough to set up a fully functioning Traditional G.D. Temple. Plus, it gives you the magickal theory behind each tool along with the rituals to conscrate and use them.
The Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot – Tabatha Cicero and Chic Cicero
This is a Tarot Deck, but it does come with a book. If you’re going to get into Golden Dawn magick, you’re going to be using the Tarot. And this deck is specially made for use in Golden Dawn ceremonies. (I still prefer the Smith-Waite deck for divinations, but this deck can’t be beat for G.D. work!)
The Golden Dawn: The Original Account of the Teachings, Rites & Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order – edited by Israel Regardie
This is where it all started – at least for those of us practicing the Golden Dawn today. After 1900, the original Order of the Golden Dawn split into several different groups. One of them became the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, which still exists today. Another became the Alpha et Omega, which closed its doors sometime in the 1940s. And another became the Stella Matutina – which was the branch joined by Israel Regardie. The Stella Matutina closed most of its doors in the middle of the 2oth century. (Only one Temple remained, but it had changed its name to the Order of Smaragdum Thallasses – better known as the Whare Ra Temple – and operated secretly in New Zealand until 1978.) Before the bulk of the Stella Matutina Temples died away, Israel Regardie decided to save the Tradition by publishing the Order’s papers. This decision was controversial, but most today agree that it saved the Golden Dawn. This book is that publication – so you can see for yourself where it all began. This was the book used by Chic Cicero to found his own Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – which is by far the world’s largest and most successful Golden Dawn Order today. This book also serves as the “advanced manual” that takes you to the next step beyond the Ciceros’ Self Initiation… book.
The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic – edited by Israel Regardie
A good companion volume to The Golden Dawn above. This book contains a lot of early Golden Dawn material that didn’t make it into the first book.
A Garden of Pomegranates: Skrying on the Tree of Life – Israel Regardie, Chic and Tabatha Cicero
This is one of the books by Israel Regardie that the Ciceros greatly expanded and then republished for the modern student. It is an excellent exploration of the Tree of Life and the magickal and Hermetic concepts that it embodies. In my intro classes, I give you the basics of the Tree of Life – but this text will take you to the next level and beyond. It includes guided meditations to introduce you to the energies, correspondences, angels and other magickal beings associated with every Sephirah and Path of the Tree.
The Middle Pillar: The Balance Between Mind and Magic – Israel Regardie, Chic and Tabatha Cicero
The is another Israel Regardie original, expanded and republished by the Ciceros. Without a doubt, this is one of my favorites. It outlines the psychological aspects of Qabalistic and Hermetic practice – that is how the material interfaces with and changes your psyche. While I am no fan of the “psychological theory of magick” that does not mean there is no psychology at all involved in its theory and practice. I describe it this way: Magick is not “a form of psychology” any more than an engine is “a car.” Yet, without an engine a car is just a dead thing and doesn’t get you anywhere. How magick affects your mind, and how your mind affects your magick, it extremely important to understand.
Godwin’s Cabalistic Encyclopedia – David Godwin
This is a wonderfully useful resource for anyone studying the Western Hermetic Qabalah. Godwin has gathered every Hebrew name and term he could find, given them in English and Hebrew characters, their Gematira values and explained what they mean. As an appendix, he has also included a copy of “Sepher Sephiroth” – which gathers even more Hebrew words and phrases according to their Gematria values. (Kind of a 777 for the Golden Dawn crowd.)
Prometheus Rising – Robert Anton Wilson, Introduced by Israel Regardie.
And speaking of understanding psychology, this book is an absolute must-read. It is an easy-to-understand operator’s manual for your brain – complete with exercises. And the concepts it teaches are, as I said above, extremely important to your own spirutal development and your successful use of that thing called Magick. ( I drew upon the material in this book in my own Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires.)
Ishtar Rising: Or, Why the Goddess Went to Hell and What to Expect Now That She’s Returning – Robert Anton Wilson
See above. I consider this to be the second half of Prometheus Rising. And, as the title suggests, this book focuses upon the sacred feminine within all of us – and even explains why magick and witchcraft have returned to our culture in a big way. Highly recommended!
(NOTE: I will soon be adding a list of traditional Qabalistic texts to this list, such as the Zohar and Sepher Yetzirah. Stay tuned.)
The following books were not part of my own early studies into Ceremonial magick, but I believe they are potentially useful to today’s students:
Experiencing the Kabbalah: A Simple Guide to Spiritual Wholeness – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
“Kabbalah, a spiritual system grounded in symmetry and logic, is rarely addressed in a format that is suitable for beginners. Experiencing the Kabbalah goes against the trend, however, by presenting both historical and practical information on the Kabbalah that focuses on experiencing this ancient spiritual system rather than just reading about it. Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero accomplish this through a sort of ritual drama that they call “Walking the Tree of Life.” It characterizes each Sephiroth (different aspects of the divine) of the Kabbalah as a person, from the stable Malkuth to the enigmatic Kether, granting readers a fuller understanding of the Sephiroth and the paths between them. Experiencing the Kabbalah is an innovative guide for beginners as well as informative reading for adept practitioners.”
Making Talismans: Living Entities of Power – Nick Farrell
“Discover the secret keys and practical techniques to turn mundane objects into “living entities of power,” bringing real change in your life. By pooling magical practices from shamanism, paganism, the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, and Dion Fortune, Making Talismans offers training and techniques for performing advanced magical talismanic operations.”
King Over the Water: Samuel Mathers and the Golden Dawn – Nick Farrell
If you are interested in the history of the Golden Dawn, this is a great place to start. This book explores the life and times one of the founders of the G.D. without the usual lens of myth and legend surrounding him. Spoiler alert! Mathers was a fallible human being like the rest of us. 😉
Mathers’ Last Secret REVISED – The Rituals and Teachings of the Alpha et Omega – Nick Farrell
The Alpha et Omega is the branch of the Order founded by Mathers after the original group split apart. This book is a good companion to King Over the Water, as well as Regardie’s The Golden Dawn. It contains the rituals used by Mathers’ A.O. before it closed its doors in the 1940s. Here, you can see how things were done in the A.O. as opposed to what the Stella Matutina was up to on their side of the fence.
By Names and Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life – Peregrin Wildoak
“The Golden Dawn (GD) system of magic is the main source of the esoteric and magical wisdom and techniques practiced in the West today. While the rituals and bare teachings of the tradition have been published for sixty years, the inner workings and esoteric keys that empower those rituals have largely remained unpublished or unexplored in contemporary works. By Names and Images remedies this lack by providing detailed and clear instructions for the visualisations, spiritual connections and energetic practices required for every major GD practice and ritual, as well as several unpublished techniques. Focusing on the meanings and use of sacred names and practical techniques of visualisation, the book thoroughly explores meditation and divination, purification ritual, invocation and evocation, grades of initiation, and direct experience of the inner realms. Also covered is an explanation of the Qabalah and its use as a magical framework. While the book is sufficiently practical and clearly explained to be of huge benefit to a newcomer to magic, its primary aim is to allow people already practicing the Golden Dawn system to do so more effectively, and to be touched by the amazing spiritual blessings the rituals offer.”
This list is certainly not exhaustive – I could have included many further books by authors like Pat Zalewski, John Michael Greer and others. And I could have included even more by authors like the Ciceros and Donald Michael Kraig. However, I think this list is certainly more than enough to give you a sound start and a well-rounded understanding of the Golden Dawn and its magickal tradition. It will also help you to avoid wasting your time and money on books that are of lesser quality, or just re-hashes of what has already been written by the fine authors listed above.
There is also a lot of good material still in the works, too – so I’ll likely be expanding this list in the future. Meanwhile, if this list isn’t enough to keep you occupied, check out this post listing the best Golden Dawn, Hermetic and Rosicrucian blogs out there – so you can keep your eyes on the ever-developing Western Mystery Tradition.
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn