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Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

The original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (founded originally as "the Fraternity of the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn) was a magical fraternity founded in London in 1888 by Dr. William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, which ceased to exist under that name in 1903 but which continued under at least two spin-off organizations, the Stella Matutina (Morning Star) and the Alpha et Omega , as well as a renamed faction headed by Arthur Edward Waite that underwent further splits. The Stella Matutina closed its doors in the United Kingdom before WWII, but continued to function under the popular name Whare Ra in New Zealand until the late 1970s.

Influences on Golden Dawn concepts and work include freemasonry, theosophy, Eliphas Levi, Papus, Enochian Magic, and medieval grimoires. It has long been thought that the synthetization of these influences into a new school of thought is largely the merit of Mathers, who at times was teaching things he had discovered only days or hours before. However more recent work seems to suggest that Dr. Westcott was a considerable influence. Mathers was responsible for the Rosicrucian inner order of the Golden Dawn being established where practical magic was taught.

The "Golden Dawn," as it is commonly referred to, was probably the single greatest influence on 20th century western occultism. While it existed, it was the focal point of the development and redevelopment of magical thinking in Europe. In it, most concepts of magic and ritual that have since become core elements of Wicca, Thelema, western mystery schools and other forms of magical spirituality were first formulated.

In its heyday, many cultural celebrities belonged to the Golden Dawn. Some well known members include:

After dissolution, Israel Regardie published a large part of the order's documents, in an act that strictly speaking was a breaking of his vow of secrecy. Before his death he was involved in re-activating the order in the United States. Today, numerous organizations claim heirdom to the Golden Dawn tradition, some through Regardie. Although the order is known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn by practically every one, this was a name invented by Israel Regardie. The original pre-split name was either the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn or the Golden Dawn (in the Outer). Paperwork with both letterheads exist.

See also


  • Greer, Mary K., Women of the Golden Dawn: (Park Street, 1994) ISBN 0892815167
  • Regardie, Israel, et. al., eds., The Golden Dawn: A Complete Course in Practical Ceremonial Magic (Llewellyn, 1989) ISBN 0875426638

External links

Last updated: 05-23-2005 01:33:39