Grace Cavanaugh ~ Co-Editor in Chief
I know it has been a week since diving into Aleister Crowley, but this week I wanted to talk about an organization he was in for a brief time, and an organization that influenced the creator of Wicca, Gerald Brosseau Gardner. That organization is the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
First off, what in the world is the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn? The answer to that question is an odd one, for sure. According to the New World Encyclopedia, the Hermetic Order was a “magical order of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which practiced various forms of theurgy and spiritual occultism.” Basically, it was a group of people who met up in a religious context and did spooky stuff.
Who started the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn? Back to the good ole New World Encyclopedia, Dr. William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers in 1887 after they were given and subsequently deciphered some document called the ‘Cipher Manuscripts.’
Where was the Order founded? In London, according to the NWE! They had a temple there called the Isis-Urania Temple. Surprisingly, they also supposedly allowed women to participate equally with the men, which was simply not done at the time.
This is the 18 and 1900’s we are talking about here. Women were even less equal to men than they were today. The fact that an Order like this one, a ‘boy’s club,’ if you will, would let men and women participate equally? Unheard of. The Freemasons and other secret society, occulty groups would not be caught dead with a woman in their ranks!
Three more temples were founded in the UK and one in Paris in the next few years.
The Order is broken into two different groups: the Inner Order and the Outer Order. The Outer Order were the trainees who went through the whole program and learned everything the Cipher Manuscripts had to offer. The Inner Order were those that had completed the Outer Order and moved on to bigger and better things.
For the most part, their teachings were philosophical and metaphysical. At least, at first they were. After a while, and after further deciphering the Cipher Manuscripts, Mathers, Westcott, and Woodman developed rituals and ‘magical practices’ that were taught to those of the Inner Order.
In 1899, only Mathers was left ruling over the Hermetic Order. This did not sit well with other members, and by 1900, Mathers was booted from the Order. He went on to try and better his name with the few temples still loyal to him, and even opened some temples in the United States.
The last temple of the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was closed in 1978.