The Tarot and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

One must now digress into the history of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the British society reconstituted by Dr. Westcott and his colleagues, in order to show further evidence as to the authenticity of the claim of the promulgators of the cipher manuscript.
Among these papers, besides the attribution of the Tarot, were certain skeleton rituals, which purported to contain the secrets of initiation; the name (with an address in Germany) of a Fraülein Sprengel was mentioned as the issuing authority. Dr. Westcott wrote to her; and, with her permission, the Order of the Golden Dawn was founded in 1886.
(The G .’. D .’. is merely a name for the Outer or Preliminary Order of the R.R. et A.C., which is in its turn an external manifestation of the A .’. A.’. which is the true Order of Masters—See Magick.) [An impudent mushroom swindle, calling itself “Order of Hidden Masters”, has recently appeared—and disappeared.]

The genius who made this possible was a man named Samuel Liddell Mathers. After a time, Frl. Sprengel died; a letter written to her, asking for more advanced knowledge, elicited a reply from one of her colleagues. This letter informed Dr. Westcott of her death, adding that the writer and his associates had never approved of Frl. Sprengel’s action in authorising any form of group working, but, in view of the great reverence and esteem in which she was held, had refrained from open opposition. He went on to say that “this correspondence must now cease”, but that if they wanted more advanced knowledge they could perfectly well get it by using in the proper manner the knowledge which they already possessed. In other words, they must utilize their magical powers to make contact with the Secret Chiefs of the Order. (This, incidentally, is a quite normal and traditional mode of procedure.)

Shortly afterwards, Mathers, who had manoeuvred himself into the practical Headship of the Order, announced that he had made this link; that the Secret Chiefs had authorized him to continue the work of the Order, as its sole head. There is, however, no evidence that he was here a witness of truth, because no new knowledge of any particular importance came to the Order; such as did appear proved to be no more than Mathers could have acquired by normal means from quite accessible sources, such as the British Museum. These circumstances, and a great deal of petty intrigue, led to serious dissatisfaction among the members of the Order. Frl. Sprengel’s judgment, that group-working in an Order of this sort is possible, was shown in this case to be wrong. In 1900, the Order in its existing form was destroyed.
The point of these data is simply to show that, at that time, the main preoccupation of all the serious members of the Order was to get in touch with the Secret Chiefs themselves. In 1904 success was attained by one of the youngest members, Frater Perdurabo. The very fullest details of this occurrence are given in The Equinox of the Gods. [Consult especially pp. 61 to 119. The message of the Secret Chiefs is even in the Book of the Law which has been published privately for initiates, and publicly in The Equinox, Vol. I, No.7 and No.10; also, with full details, in The Equinox of the Gods, pp.13 to 38. In a pocket at the end of that volume is a photolithographic reproduction of the manuscript. There is also a cheap pocket edition of the text of the Book by itself. There are also American Editions of the text.]
It is not here useful to discuss the evidence which goes to establish the truth of this claim. But it is to be observed that it is internal evidence. It exists in the manuscript itself. It would make no difference if the statement of any of the persons concerned turned out to be false.
ALEISTER CROWLEY. The Book of Thoth


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