The Flying Rolls of the R.R. et A.C.

The Flying Rolls of the original Order were a series of instructional documents which were issued periodically by the Chiefs of the Second Order (R.R..et A.C.) for those students who had obtained the Grade of Portal or higher. The name alludes to the means by which these documents were distributed — a single copy (“roll”) was circulated (“flown”) from one student to the next. Each one was sent by post to the student in a plain, unmarked envelope, on which the postage stamp was affixed upside down — this was the “secret code” that indicated the letter came from within the Order and was not to be opened in the presence of the “profane”. Each recipient was instructed to send the papers after a certain period of time to another designated recipient, and that recipient to another, until the “roll” had “flown” to all the intended recipients, at which point it was returned to the Order. In some cases the student was allowed to make a personal copy (by hand) of the text, in other cases no copying was allowed

Students were ordered to store the papers in their possession in a “cover” that bore the seal of the Order (probably a folder provided by their Lodge.) On the cover was the following label:

“This material is private and has been lent to me on trust, to return on demand. It contains nothing of pecuniary value and nothing personal to myself. I hereby direct my legal representatives whomsoever, in case of my death or incapacity, to return the same at once, unread and unopened, to [the address of W. Wynn. Westcott].”

In fact, it was the address on one of these covers, left (either accidentally or deliberately) in a London taxicab, that led the authorities of the British Crown to discover Westcott’s involvement in a “secret occult society”. Westcott was a Coroner for the City of London, and his employers demanded that he either quit the Order or lose his job, and he subsequently resigned as Chief. The Order’s obsession with secrecy had, in the end, led to their public exposure!

There is some excellent and useful knowledge to be found in the Flying Rolls, but some of the material is of dubious value to the modern student of the Golden Dawn; for example, the exhortations concerning their rules of “secrecy”. Some may seem anachronistic and even clearly inaccurate, such as comparing Enochian script to the Ethiopian Alphabet. They are presented here for whatever use the student may find in them, and as a historical archive of the teachings of the original Order.


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