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                           THE FEMININE CURRENT IN THE GOLDEN DAWN
                                         by Peregrin
                  (A version of this article first appeared in SWEEPINGS).
           Many Wiccans and Pagans, whilst declaring themselves "eclectic" seem
           to avoid the Golden Dawn like the plague. This is quite understanda-
           ble, since on the face of it the GD seems to be counter to most of the
           Pagan philosophies. (The open hostilities and down putting directed at
           Wiccans that pour out of some GD practitioners does not help the
           matter either.)
           The GD Is often viewed as inflexible, patriarchal, authoritarian and
           stuck up its own behind. A few Wiccans do practise the GD, but most of
           these, I feel do so with the belief that the two are watertight compa-
           rtments - that is Wicca is a religion and the GD a "system". Most
           (including myself), if they confide in you will admit that they view
           the GD as more "powerful" - at least in the magical as opposed to the
           religious sense.
           It is my aim here to show that the essence of the GD is not inherently
           patriarchal and opposed to Pagan ideology. This I believe can be r-
           eadily observed if we remember that the Hermetic Order of the Golden
           Dawn was a late 19th century outward manifestation of a spiritual
           system aeons old. The essence of the system would therefore be con-
           tained within, but not altered by, and outward form that reflected
           late 19th century western occult ideology. (Remember also that the GD
           first emerged via Masonic sources and thus the outer form was heavily
           coloured by that system.) This essence can however be readily "tapped
           into". This will then help the magician avoid being trapped into
           "believing" the GD's outer form. The essence I speak of is, of course,
           the Goddess.
           On the face of it to say that the GD's essence is Goddess sounds
           absurd. But please do not judge the GD book by its cover. Forget the
           outer form, forget the Victorian pomposity, forget the props. Let's go
           a little deeper.
           First off, the original GD System relied heavily on its ceremonial in-
           itiations. The process of initiation (even the mimicry of ritual
           initiation) always involves a death and re-birth, which can only truly
           occur via Goddess, since only the "female" force of the universe can
           give birth.  Thus straightaway we see that at the core of the GD is an
           unrecognised Goddess force. To deny it is to say that either, a) the
           GD initiations do not involve a re-birth; b) something other than Go-
           ddess can give birth; or c) the GD initiations are not effective,
           which anyone who has undergone them will heartily dispute.
           Christopher S Hyatt, the main collaborator with the late Israel Regar-
           die before his death, in a recent book - The Secrets of Western Tantra
           - makes several hints which echo the views I express. Says Hyatt, when
           tracing the link between the GD and the Tantric Goddess:
           " attribute among many others which gives the whole show away is
           the equality between male and female adepts." (p.69)
           For a Masonically derived Order in Victorian England this was an unpr-
           ecedented and daring move. Yet this had to, and did occur, since the
           Order's essence is based firmly on Goddess and the co-equality of the
           sexes. Looking a little more closely at the formation of the Order
           will also show many other clues regarding the hidden Goddess essence.
           Firstly, the leading light of the Order, S L MacGregor Mathers, was an
           ardent supporter of the equality of the sexes and the young feminist
           movement. In his introduction to "The Kabbalah Unveiled" he sets the
           record straight concerning the nature of divinity:
           "...the translators of the Bible have crowded out and smoothed up eve-
           ry reference to the fact that Divinity is both masculine and femini-
           ne... now we hear much of the Father and the Son, but we hear nothing
           of the Mother in the ordinary religions of the day."
           Presuming the hidden Goddess essence and following the mythology of
           the Order, it becomes apparent why the "Secret Chiefs" chose such a
           person to lead the GD. If the Order's essence was patriarchal they
           would surely have chosen a different man.
           Continuing with the examination we find that the Outer Order rituals
           are based upon a set of cipher manuscripts. In those manuscripts, as
           published in "The Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn", we
           find the candidate is often referred to as "she". In an age when women
           were still calling themselves "brothers" and "chairmen", this is
           Further, the Order was chartered and given authority (ie, symbolic
           life) by a woman (Sr SDA). Now admittedly serious doubt has been cast
           upon this history, but regardless of whether the events occurred in
           shared space-time or Westcott's mind, the symbolism is important - it
           is a symbolic birth performed by a Goddess figure.
           This theme is further developed in the naming of the first true GD
           temple in England (and the initial temple of many GD Orders worldwide)
           as the Isis-Urania temple. Thus the Order is visibly dedicated to, and
           under the influence of, the Goddess. Behind all things, even GD t-
           emples, is the Mother.
           Before having a quick flick through Regardie's "The Golden Dawn" to
           see what Goddess essence we can find there, let's pay attention to
           some of the more prominent proteges of the Order. Firstly Mathers
           himself went on to utilise his GD adeptship to develop, along with his
           wife Moina, the Rites of Isis in Paris (the couple nearly always
           worked as a partnership in their occult work.) Secondly Aleister Cr-
           owley, despite his male ego, misogyny and viciousness went on to pr-
           oduce a sort of Nuit "cult", using GD based techniques. Crowley him-
           self is an excellent example of my point that inner essences do not
           necessarily reflect outer forms and vice versa. It is hard to imagine
           that such a person as Crowley (the man) could act as medium to such
           Goddess inspired beauty as the closing paragraphs of the first chapter
           of Liber Al vel Legis. Yet Goddess came forth anyway. Crowley, like
           the GD was outwardly patriarchal, but contained the essence of God-
           dess. There is no more Goddess inspired thealogy than Crowley's maxim,
           "Do what Thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law".
           Dion Fortune, initiate of the Stella Matutina, also used GD based tec-
           hniques to help formulate her Pagan workings, the focus of which was
           the Goddess Isis.
           The most obvious evidence of Goddess in the GD is the Rose-Cross, the
           symbol of the combined female and male forces. The GD's Inner Order,
           the Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis claimed a Rosicrucian lineage, and
           the links between the Rosicrucians and Goddess have been detailed
           beautifully by Gareth Knight in his book, "The Rose Cross and the
           We come then to the GD tarot, and find it restoring the court cards to
           an equal sexual balance based upon the Tetragrammaton. The male knave
           (page) of the exoteric packs of the era was correctly replaced by the
           female princess, symbolic of the Earth Goddess.
           In Qabalistic philosophy we find the spirit of the Divine often refe-
           rred to as Shekinah, which is seen as having a female essence. This is
           shown clearly by Mathers when he correctly translates a passage from
           the Sepher Yetzirah:
           "...AChTh RVCh ALHIM ChIIM: Achath (feminine, not Achad, masculine)
           Ruach Elohim Chiim; One is She the Spirit of the Elohim of Life."
           This thealogy is followed in the GD. Israel Regardie shows this in his
           ritual for Spiritual Advancement, which is based firmly upon the Z
           documents of the Inner Order. Here he implores the Mother of Goddesses
           and Gods (Aima Elohim) to aid him in his quest. Regardie even uses a
           cauldron as a symbol of the Great Mother. This, believe it or not, is
           not a Wiccan ritual, but pure Golden Dawn.
           The main weapon of the RR et AC adept, the Lotus Wand, has embodied
           within it much Goddess essence. It is described as, "...a simple wand
           surmounted by the lotus flower of Isis. It symbolises the development
           of creation." (The Golden Dawn, 5th ed. p224.) This indicates that the
           creation of the Spirit, the Heavens and the Earth comes from the Great
           Mother Isis. The wand also represents the Kundalini - a feminine
           Goddess force. This to me is a beautiful tool, alive with Goddess,
           much more so than the Wiccan athame (which is objected to by some
           feminist Witches as being aggressive and masculine).
           Finally let us return to initiations. The two most important init-
           iations of the GD/RR et AC system, the Neophyte and the Adeptus Minor
           ceremonies, both contain the hidden Goddess essence.
           The Neophyte ceremony is based on the myth of the Slain and Risen
           Osiris, where the candidate acts as the Slain Osiris. This myth ho-
           wever is a later patriarchal rendition of the Ishtar and earlier Inna-
           na myth of Goddess descending into the Underworld. The Goddess is thus
           present deep within the archetypal theme of the ceremony. Further, the
           act that seals the initiation proper, the final consecration, is
           conducted by Officers representing "the Goddesses of the Scale of the
           Balance". And as the badge of the grade is placed upon the new init-
           iate, "... it is as the two Great Goddesses Isis and Nepthys, stret-
           ched forth their wings over Osiris (the initiate) to restore him again
           to life." The candidate is thus re-born to a fuller life by the power
           of Goddess.
           The Adeptus Minor ceremony contains much Goddess essence quite openly.
           The clearest example of this is the Vault of the Adepti, and obvious
           symbol of the Womb of Goddess. As Regardie briefly points out in his
           introduction to the Golden Dawn, the candidate is led through the Twin
           Pillars which symbolise the vagina and into the womb itself. There she
           returns to the Great Mother and is re-born and out through the vagina
           once more. The symbolism is so obvious, so beautiful and so potent,
           and I am surprised some Wiccan/Pagan group hasn't adapted the ceremony
           in their own workings.
           From the foregoing it can easily be seen that Goddess is alive and
           well within the GD - at least in its essence. Sadly not many GD adepts
           are aware of this. Most GD magicians get too caught up in the outer
           form and potency of the system to notice where the energy and beauty
           originate. I am not claiming that the GD is, or should be, a religion.
           It is not, and its essence is not. The essence is however Goddess and
           Her continuing manifestation in this world. If we are to remember and
           consciously perceive this it will transform our GD work. Then the GD
           will no longer be "dry" and without life - the perceptions most
           Wiccans and natural Goddess worshippers intuitively feel.
           For 100 years the Golden Dawn has concealed Her, the Mother of Light,
           Life and Love. But now in this time when She is being worshipped by so
           many in so many different ways, the Golden Dawn will at last reveal
           its secret. And just as the Stone that the Builders rejected shall
           become the Cornerstone of the Temple, so too shall Goddess become the
           key to the 21st century manifestations of what is now the Golden Dawn.
           The new Golden Dawn shall one day become as important as the Wiccan
           movement in the collective invocation of Goddess. This process is
           already beginning, and we can all take part in and promote it if we
           Will. But whether we chose to or not, now is the time to bury the
           false split between ceremonial and Pagan magic, for both are born of
           the Mother and both will lead us back to her.

Next: Warriorship (Swein Runestaff W.o.W.)