If you have further questions we can clarify for you, please let us know by contacting our Cancellarius.
Q: Is the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn a “real” Golden Dawn order?
A: The first task is to define the Golden Dawn:
Historically the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was a flowering of the western magickal tradition in England, France, the US and later, New Zealand. Its initial incarnation existed from 1887 (or 8) to 1903. Based on a grade system derived from the Societas Rosicrucians in Anglia (SRIA) which in turn was derived from Masonic roots, its doctrine, like the SRIA, was rooted in the Hermetic Qabalah informed by Christianity. Its notable unique elements included the actual practice of ritual to achieve magickal ends, the teaching of the techniques of ritual and spiritual magicks including Tarot, Astrology, Enochian and Goetic sorcery, and the inclusion of women on an equal basis with men. It used the best available understandings of Egyptian and Tatwic magicks of the time and blended these with the dominant theology of the day, which view the divine in a transcendental and dualistic manner. In line with the culture of the day matter in general and sexuality in particular were viewed having lesser value or being of negative value (i.e., evil) especially when compared to the ‘spiritual’. As a whole, the HOGD was a superb adaptation of magickal practice to the conditions of the day.
The OSOGD pays homage to these pioneers whose work gave rise to the conditions of today. Three principal areas focus our concern:
- Far Asian magick and philosophy. The conflict between ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ spiritualities was present in the GD from the beginning. Its founding members were part of a seminal group that split on this issue. Madame Blavatsky led the faction that saw more value in the eastern material while Westcott and Mathers lead the group that walked out, preferring to not flood western magick with eastern technique and philosophy. The former became the Theosophical Society and the latter group became the Golden Dawn. Both bodies communicated and shared membership and often relations were quite cordial.However, the GD did not exist in isolation from eastern practice. Its principal ‘spirit vision’ training technique was to scry the ‘Tatwas’. Teachings about the chakras circulated in the Order. Allan Bennett, Aleister Crowley’s teacher, would later become a Buddhist monk.Since then, the Dharma has come to the west. These early practitioners, while often misunderstanding the details of the eastern teachings, laid the groundwork for the hold the Dharma has taken in the west. The OSOGD has heard the Dharma and learns from the lessons of those who have continuously run magickal (read Tantric) organizations and lineages for hundreds and even thousands of years. Shunyata, bodhicitta and the active power of compassion informs and, when useful, modifies our practice. In ritual this is present in Taking Refuge at the beginning of our work and Dedicating the Merit at the end. Rather than introducing something ‘alien’ into the Golden Dawn, the presence of the Buddhadharma is in our rites both due to historical connections and since both streams have a commitment to the Great Work, the enlightenment of all beings, and the streams are harmonious if not identical at root. (See Pagan Dharma 1 & Pagan Dharma 2 for more discussion of this topic.)
- Thelema. Another product of the Golden Dawn is Thelema. As discussed below, the Book of the Law can be seen as a reforming influence upon the GD. Opinions vary on this point but no one would viably argue that it is not written using the GD as its foundational symbol set. The existence of this work has transformed the environment of the GD and thus it has to be reckoned with, either by integrating its insights or rejecting them. In the OSOGD we choose to integrate them.
- Paganism. The single greatest influence the Golden Dawn has had on western culture has been its contribution to creating the contemporary Pagan movement. Building upon the foundation the GD provides, the traditional religions of Europe and the Middle East are reforming in the US and Europe. The Victorian worldview has been thoroughly discredited. Dualism, a transcendent god, monotheism, authoritarian power structures and patriarchalism, anti-cosmic and anti-somatic stances are all discarded in favor of immediacy, mutuality and distributed power and creativity. Suitably, the OSOGD has shifted the theological positions inherited from the social and ‘tribal’ conditions the HOGD found itself in to those of today. We consider this an improvement. For an example, please see the question below regarding the changes we have made to the Adoration.
Q: Is being Thelemic antithetical with being Golden Dawn?
A: Some of the folk who opine that the OSOGD is not a real GD order do so on the basis of our work with Thelema. We beg to differ:
The Book of the Law or ‘Liber AL‘ (L.AL) scribed by Aleister Crowley, is the basis for Thelema. To understand it a thorough knowledge of the Golden Dawn system is required since it is written in GD symbolism. Yet, somehow despite AC’s rebuilding the GD in line with his vision and understanding of L.AL to form his AA, some feel there is an inherent conflict between the GD and Thelema. We don’t see it.
Our view is this: Extending the pervasive computer metaphor present in the OSOGD, Thelema is Golden Dawn version 2.0. The excellent work of the Stella Matutina, the Alpha et Omega, and most importantly the recently released work of the Smaragdum Thalasses and Whare Ra of New Zealand would correspond to point releases e.g., GD1.1, GD1.2, GD1.3, etc. Each is a development on the original GD either due to changing conditions or many years of experience. We who practice the GD system are all in their debt.
Thelema, as embodied by L.AL, is purportedly delivered from the same source as the GD originally depended. It provides a way of revisioning the GD work in a manner in accord with the current era. In computerese this would be like receiving an upgrade file to run against an installed application. AC and many others including ourselves have ‘run’ this upgrade ‘against’ our internalized understanding of the GD and produced the approaches we use today.
Naturally, one does not have to upgrade one’s application of the system, but why wouldn’t you?
Q: Doesn’t changing the theology of the GD make your Order no longer GD?
A: Our forbears in the classical GD had the misfortune to live during the Modern Era. They were saddled with transcendent and monotheistic notions of the divine. They actually believed in a ‘God’ who created and ruled the Universe from some transcendent position outside of the cosmos and their symbolism reflected this belief. This approach was suitable to their day but such theology is not inherent to the GD. As reported by his wife and lifelong collaborator, Moina Bergson Mathers (Sr. V.N.R.), Mathers said:
“He asks that you should keep intact the official Instruction of the Order, knowing that he received it in a direct line from the most pure Rosicrucian sources, even though these Mysteries are found somewhat modified in their exterior form, for reasons of Tribe and Culture.”
Ours is a very different culture today. We who are Pagan already worship in an immanentist or immediatist manner. Pagans, doing the Golden Dawn, will naturally modify the symbolism, the exterior form, of the Mysteries for ‘reasons of Tribe and Culture.’ Thus, with respect to the Adoration:
Holy art Thou who art Universe—the universe is the divine
Holy art Thou who art in Nature formed—the divine is present to us as Nature
Holy art Thou the Vast and the Mighty—with all humility we acknowledge our relationship to the divine is as a part to a whole.
Source of Darkness, Source of Light—the divine universe is the source of all and the (non-dual) origin that which appears to us as dual.
Q: How does one join the OSOGD?
A: In light of the forthcoming Sunset of the OSOGD, we are no longer accepting new members.
Groups may apply for Sister Lodge or Daughter Lodge status, which brings various benefits and responsibilities. Alternately, groups may use our rituals yet choose to remain unaffiliated. For more information on the affiliation process, see our Regulations.
For more information, contact the Cancellarius.
Q: How many people belong to the OSOGD?
The Mother Lodge, Het Nuit, has in excess of 80 members.
Q: Are you a nonprofit corporation or any other sort of legal business entity?
A: The OSOGD is not itself a legally incorporated body. However, the OSOGD receives fiscal sponsorship from the Pantheon Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
Q: Do you offer training courses, either in person or on-line?
A: The Het Nuit Lodge offers monthly seminars for our members at which senior Lodge members, and other experts drawn from the local Pagan-magical community, give instruction on a variety of subjects relating to the work of the magical aspirant. We also meet for Reading Group discussions on a regular basis.
Q: Do you charge dues or other fees to be a member of the OSOGD?
A: Individual OSOGD lodges may charge their members dues as they see fit. Currently Het Nuit Lodge members pay $120.00-$150.00 USD per year to help cover the cost of temple supplies and other expenses. No one is turned away for financial reasons. Our accounting records are open to all members, and periodic reports are made by the Cancellarius to the membership regarding our finances.
For Lodges that wish to affiliate with OSOGD, we ask for a contribution to defray the cost of mailings, materials, and maintaining a web presence for their Lodge on our OSOGD webserver. This contribution will not be significantly more than the actual costs of such expenses.
Q: How does an existing group affiliate with the OSOGD?
A: See the sections regarding Sister Lodges, Daughter Lodges, and Non-affiliated Lodges on our Regulations page.
Q: Why call yourselves “Open Source Order”? That seems like a technical name instead of an esoteric one.
A: First, we make no separation between the technical and the esoteric. Similarly, many of our members make no separation between the categories of the ‘sacred’ and the ‘profane’.
We use the term in harmony with the Open Source software movement and learn from its experiences. In the interests of proper disclosure we qualify our Golden Dawn with the term ‘Open Source’ to prevent confusion with any other Golden Dawn group and to indicate the open attitude with which we approach the magickal work of Normalizing Adeptship.
Q: Open Source Software has a certification process to rate compliance with what is defined as “Open Source”. Does the OSOGD have any kind of similar system for certifying a temple or solo practitioner as “Open Source”?
A: The ‘open source-edness’ of a group is evident in its practices and in how it communicates with the larger community. Since this is easily determined by the observer, there is no need for certification nor the ‘power over’ politics that it would evoke.
Q: Do you have any official relationship or recognition with any of the more well known Golden Dawn organizations, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn?
A: The OSOGD has no formal affiliation with any other magical or esoteric organization. We do not seek such affiliation, nor do we set ourselves up as being “superior” to any other given esoteric path. There are many paths to the palace of Adepthood, and ours is but one among many.
Q: Isn’t “Golden Dawn” a registered trademark?
A: By consulting the US Patent Office Trade Mark records, we found that “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” is a trademarked name. The trademark is owned by the Florida-based, nonprofit corporation owned by Charles “Chic” and Tabitha Cicero.
We do NOT call ourselves “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn”, and since the image we use as our emblem is so different from the registered mark, there is no conflict or confusion arising from using the words “Golden Dawn” in the name of our Order or having a cross and triangle in our emblem.
Q: Are you administered by a single person or by a representative council? Do you make any decisions democratically?
A: We are a constitutional democracy. (See our Constitution.)
Administrative officers are elected or appointed from among the Adepti and confirmed by that body, the College of the Rose Cross, from which all power derives and which is the legislative body of the Order. Operations of the Order are supervised by the Chiefs General of the Order, over whom presides the First Adept (Adeptus Princeps).
Q: You begin your Manifesto with a quote from Aleister Crowley’s Book of the Law. Are you a Thelemic order? Do you base your system on the works of Crowley?
A: We are an Order that has heard the word of Thelema and seen how it improves our Golden Dawn practice. Since no standard definition of a ‘Thelemic Order’ is currently available, we will let history judge our character.
Q: Since you are changing the rituals of the original Order to some degree, doesn’t that mean you are not working the real Golden Dawn system? Shouldn’t you call yourself by some other name?
A: Living ritual traditions change their rituals all of the time in accord with real conditions. Those that don’t are not alive and not worth working with.
Q: Do you use the same Knowledge Lectures as are found in Regardie’s books and elsewhere, or have they been revised for your Order?
A: We require our Aspirants to master the material found in the traditional Knowledge Lectures to advance in the Grade system, exactly as did the original Order. Some minor revisions have been made, to reflect contemporary knowledge in such fields as Egyptology and Astrology that were unknown to the original Order. (For example, Uranus had only just been discovered when the original Knowledge Lectures were written—they called it “Herschel”, after its discoverer, as it had not even been officially named yet. Pluto was unknown at the time.
Q: Isn’t it ineffective or even dangerous to make changes to old, traditional magical rituals?
A: No. On the contrary, it is very dangerous to not modify rituals to bring them into accord with the real conditions of an era.
Q: What is your official position on the meaning and value of lineage? Does the OSOGD have authentic Golden Dawn lineage?
A: Learning from those who came before us has profound, even critical, value. However, if (as we assume) magick has any relationship with reality, its principles and powers are accessible to anyone with sufficient skill. We consider all traditions of lineage and apostolic succession to be efforts on the part of some persons to establish a monopoly on access to spiritual resources. We consider this immoral. (See our Founding Adept’s essay On Lineage.)
And yet only a fool would hand a firearm to an infant.
Q: How can you “diminish” the influence of Judeo-Christian religious symbols in the Golden Dawn system? Isn’t the Golden Dawn a form of esoteric Christianity?
A: Qabalah, contrary to popular understanding, is not a specifically Hebrew or Jewish phenomenon. Its content constituted the cosmology and theology common throughout the Middle East, and outward into India and Egypt. Due to the profound resilience of the Jewish community this pan-Semitic tradition was preserved into the modern era. With an understanding of the wider context, it is easy to remove YHVH from the Qabalah.
There is little mention of Christian symbolism or doctrine in the First Order of the Golden Dawn, and what is is either easily reinterpreted or removed. However, the Second Order was a specifically Christian form. We have chosen to supplant the Slain and Risen formula of Christianity and Christian Rosenkreutz with that of the Crowned and Conquering Child. We see this as a purification of the magickal stream in two ways:
- YHVH forbids magick to all of His adherents. Their loss. By removing the intrusive Yahwistic and Christian elements which have no part in magick we restore the stream to its original condition.
- Magick is the specific property of the older religions of Europe and the Middle East. It exists as a separate category from religion only in places where the old religion was destroyed. In all other places what we call magick is simply a technical aspect of the local religion. Due to the seminal work of Iamblichus, the old way was preserved for us, and we continue the work in his footsteps. Having the old sources to draw upon, such changes to the rituals are simple.
Q: You use the Egyptian god Set in your rituals. Wasn’t Set the God of Evil, like the Christian Satan?
A: This is a misconception based on the prejudices of early European Egyptologists. The Egyptian pagans had no concept of a “God of Evil” that would be analogous to the Christian concept of “Satan”. Set was the God of Darkness, and they did not equate “darkness” with “evil”. There was a period in Ancient Egypt when the rivals of the Priesthood of Set, who was the tutelary god of the Upper (southern) Lands, gained political ascendancy and suppressed worship of Set. This was due to religious and political rivalry between the Upper and Lower lands, not due to Set being considered “evil”.
Modern scholarship even relates the tale that Set rode the Barque of Millions of Years (the Solar Boat bearing the light of Re through they sky) at night, guiding it through his realm of Darkness and slaying the Apis-demon of “non-existence” that threatens to devour it every morning before the dawn. Without Set, the Sun would not rise and all life would cease to exist!
Q: Does your Lodge have regular meetings?
A: Yes; see above.
Q: Does the Open Source paradigm include open ritual activities, or are such activities limited to members?
A: From time to time we do. Stay tuned to the website for announcements.
Q: Do you have a physical space to hold your Lodge rituals in?
A: We have a Lodge Hall established at a temple housed in a private residence.
Q: Do you use the temple equipment (robes, magical tools, altars, etc.) called for in the printed versions of the GD rituals? Are your designs of these any different from the classical ones?
A: Our temple equipment is the same as the classical Order.
Q: Do you have a Second Order, as did the original Golden Dawn?
A: Our Second Order is called the College of the Rose Cross and consists of all Adepti as peers, and members of the Portal as probationers. At this time, it bestows the rite of the Portal and the 5=6 Adeptus Minor.