- Occult scholars Frederick Hockley and Kenneth Mackenzie died in 1885 and 1886 respectively. Subsequently, a number of their papers were passed down via the Reverend Adolphus Frederick Alexander Woodford, a significant Masonic scholar and member of the premier Masonic research body known as the Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, to Dr. William Wynn Westcott, as Secretary of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA). Among the materials were a set of papers written in an encrypted code. Today, they are referred to as the Cipher Manuscripts.
Westcott was able to find the key to the Cipher Manuscripts, a simple letter-for-letter substitution encryption found in a book entitled Polygraphiae by Abbot Johann Trithemius, to decode the papers into plain English written right-to-left. Once deciphered, these papers outlined a set of initiatory rituals and graded lessons in esoteric subjects such as astrology, alchemy, geomancy, Qabalah, Tarot and Hermetics. Soon after Westcott deciphered the papers, he asked Samuel Liddell “MacGregor” Mathers, who held the honorary VIIIth degree of Magister in the SRIA, to help him flesh out the rituals and the curricula into a format that could be used as a foundation for a mystery school. Westcott also pulled the then current Supreme Magus of the SRIA, Dr. William Robert Woodman, into the project.
Additionally, among the Cipher Manuscripts, also encrypted, was allegedly an address of a Rosicrucian Adept named Fraulein Sprengel from Nuremburg, care of a hotel in Stuttgart. Westcott carried on a correspondence with this Fraulein Sprengel starting in November 1887, where she granted the 7=4 Adeptus Exemptus grade on Westcott and directed him to found a Temple No. 3 in England. (Sprengel’s Lodge, named “Licht, Liebe, Leben”, was No. 1, and the Temple of Hermanubis No. 2, granted antecedent to two Englishmen, never fully got off the ground.)
In January 1888, Fraulein Sprengel gave Westcott authorization to sign her motto (Sapiens Dominabitur Astris) to any relevant documents. This was done on March 1, 1888 for the issuance of the Warrant of the Temple of Isis-Urania, along with Mathers’ and Woodman’s 7=4 mottoes (Deo Duce Comite Ferro and Vincit Omnia Veritas), declaring Mathers (‘S Rioghail Mo Dhream) as Praemonstrator, Westcott (Quod Scis Nescis) as Cancellarius and Woodman (Magna est Veritas et Praevalebit) as Imperator. The Golden Dawn as we know it was born. Its first initiate was Mina Bergson, taking the motto Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum.
Osiris Temple #4 at Weston-Super-Mare was established under Benjamin Cox (Crux Dat Salutem) as Imperator. Its original members were all Freemasons. The Temple was chartered in December 1888 and consecrated on April 16, 1889.
Horus Temple #5 at Bradford was established under T.H. Pattinson (Vota Vita Mea) as Praemonstrator. The Temple was consecrated on October 19, 1888.
Samuel (MacGregor) Mathers and Mina Bergson are married by the Reverend William Ayton (Vertute Orta Occidunt Rarius). Afterwards, she took on the more Celtic name “Moïna”, so as to go along with Mathers’ alleged Scottish noble bloodline.
They move to Stent Lodge, Forest Hill, where MacGregor will be the caretaker of Annie Horniman’s father’s museum.
Westcott receives a letter from Dahme, Germany signed by a Continental Adept whose motto was Ex Uno Disce Omnes. The letter regretfully reports that Fraulein Sprengel had died on July 20, 1890. It further states that Sprengel went against her fellow Chiefs in granting permission to “perform ceremonies in large lodges” and “they would not correspond until they find out how this change affects the Order.” There would be no future contact nor communication.
In the summer of 1891, Mathers took a trip to Paris, France. (This is somewhat peculiar because he technically was still a newlywed.) During his trip, he wrote back to Westcott telling him that he had established contact with a number of Continental Adepts in the Bois de Boulogne. One Adept he mentioned in particular, he referred to as Frater Lux E Tenebris. Other interesting yet unidentified mottoes appear on the Second Order’s rolls. The first three listed are Lux Saeculorum, Lux Benigna, and Lux in Coelis. The fourth listed, Sapiens Dominabitur Astris, was the motto of Dr. Westcott’s continental connection, Fraulein Sprengel.
Annie Elizabeth Frederica Horniman (Fortiter et Recte) is the first member to be initiated into the R.R. et A.C., achieving the full grade of 5=6 Adeptus Minor. The Vault had been newly built, and it is said the roof was not affixed and the paint on the Crook and Scourge was still wet.
Annie was heiress to the Horniman & Co. tea estate, was a great patron of theatre, and established the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
For the most part, Paris would be home to the Matherses for the next 25 years, until MacGregor’s death in 1918, and few of their domiciles strayed far from the Bois de Bologne. The residence in which they lived the longest was a very attractive villa with three accesses, and thus three addresses: 87 avenue Mozart, 43 rue Ribéra, and 14 rue de la Source.
William Butler Yeats (Demon Est Deus Inversus) is initiated into the R.R. et A.C., achieving the full grade of 5=6 Adeptus Minor. According to the Second Order rolls, he was the only member to have gone through the Portal initiation and the first section of the 5=6 ceremony one day, and completed the second and third sections of the 5=6 ceremony the next day.
Yeats was an Irish poet, writer, and nationalist, and was one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. He also helped establish the Abbey Theatre in Dublin along with Horniman.
Westcott resigns from the office of Praemonstrator. This left Mathers as the only remaining original Chief of the Order. However, Westcott remained Chief Adept in Anglia (England).
Upon Westcott’s resignation, Florence Farr took up the mantle of Praemonstrator. Annie Horniman subsequently is named Sub-Praemonstrator. Percy Bullock (Levavi Oculos) is Cancellarius and Edmund Berridge (Resurgam) is Sub-Imperator at this time.
Amen-Ra Temple #6 is chartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, under J.W. Brodie-Innes as Imperator. Members included William Peck (Veritas et Lux) and Robert William Felkin (Finem Respice). The Temple was consecrated on December 19, 1893.
Ahathöor Temple #7, under MacGregor (as Imperator) and Moïna Mathers, is chartered in Paris, France. Dr. Gérard Encausse, a famous French occultist, better known by his pseudonym Papus, is a member. The Temple was consecrated on January 6, 1894.
Benjamin Cox, Imperator of Osiris Temple #4, dies. Having few members and little activity, the Temple ceases its work soon after, and the Warrant is returned to Westcott.
Florence Farr creates the “Sphere Group”, a select set of secret skryer Adepti inside Isis-Urania. They went on to perform some of the most notable workings of the Order, including an evocation of the Mercurial spirit Taphthartharath to visible appearance.
The Matherses travel to Scotland, at the invitation of Brodie-Innes, possibly to meet with a Jacobite group, the White Rose Society. Apparently, this causes them to miss the Corpus Christi Ceremony and meeting in London. Annie Horniman considers the Matherses to be “absent with insult”.
Annie Horniman resigns her position as Sub-Praemonstrator of Isis-Urania Temple in protest, due to the Matherses’ absence from Corpus Christi “due to politics”.
In an effort to quell the unrest, Samuel Mathers delivers a long-winded Manifesto to the Theorici Adepti Minores in London, representing himself as the connection to the Secret Chiefs of the Order, and demanding a complete submission of the members of the Second Order under his rule. Annie Horniman was the only member to not consent.
Due to her refusal to comply with his Manifesto (and a number of other reasons, including that she withdrew her financial support back in July), MacGregor Mathers expels Annie Horniman for insubordination.
The Order of the Golden Dawn establishes two Temples in the United States of America. Thmê Temple #8 is chartered in Chicago, Illinois, under G.W. Wiggs as Imperator, and Thoth-Hermes Temple #9 is chartered in New York City, under C. Lockwood as Imperator. (Paul Foster Case was a member of Thoth-Hermes.)
Allegedly, due to a collection of papers left behind in a Hansom cab that found their way into the hands of the London Coroner’s office, Westcott was delivered an ultimatum to either break ties with his magical pursuits or lose his job as coroner.
Subsequently, Westcott “officially” resigns from the Golden Dawn and the R.R. et A.C. Regardless, he continues to play a role throughout the remainder of the Order’s history. Florence Farr takes over his position as Chief Adept in Anglia.
On November 26, 1989, a young 23-year-old man named Aleister Crowley was initiated into the 0=0 Grade of Neophyte in the Temple of Isis-Urania #3, taking the motto Perdurabo. He advanced through the Outer Order Grades in a little over a year, but rumors of his misconduct and depravity were well-known. Because of this, Florence Farr refused to initiate Crowley into the 5=6 Grade of Adeptus Minor and into the Inner Order.
Farr sends a communication to Mathers, to which he responds with an accusation that she is fomenting schism under the direction of Westcott. Farr resigns in protest.
Crowley visits the Matherses in Paris, allegedly to receive his 5=6 initiation. Upon his return to London, he enters his motto Christeos Luciftias in the Second Order rolls, member number 129. His name and entry were subsequently stricken out “by order of [the] Committee.”
It is important to note here that there is no recorded mention of Crowley’s alleged Initiation in the Temple Ahathöor Minute Books, on that date or otherwise. And even if there was, there was no Vault in Paris at the time, so there is no way that Crowley could have been regularly initiated into the 5=6 Grade of Adeptus Minor, and thus the Second Order of the R.R. et A.C.
Mathers refuses to accept Farr’s resignation, and continues to accuse Westcott of forgery, informing her that the real Fräulein Sprengel was visiting him right then and there. At a meeting of Ahathöor Temple, Mathers introduced her as Soror S.D.A., a 5=6 Adeptus Minor from Thmê Temple No. 8.
In actuality, she and her husband were elaborate American spiritual charlatans Frank and Editha (Saloman) Jackson, using the pseudonyms Theo and Laura Horos. After their visit to the Matherses, the Horoses made off with a stash of Order papers, including a set of the Outer Order ceremonies.
Farr calls together the Second Order and assembles a seven member committee to investigate Mather’s allegations of fraud against Westcott. The committee spends the next month doing what it can to interrogate both Westcott and Mathers about the origins of the Order.
Westcott denies the accusations of forgery, but beyond that, insists he wishes “to remain neutral in the matter.” Mathers refuses to recognize the committee or to offer any evidence in support of his allegations. Subsequently, Mathers dismisses Farr, annuls the committee, and threatens its members with “Punitive Current”.
Crowley, acting as Mathers’ envoy, breaks into the Second Order headquarters on the first floor of 36 Blythe Road and seizes the property. He summons the members to private meetings where, masked and in Highland garb, demands signed pledges of allegiance to Mathers. Under the direction of Yeats, and with the assistance of Edmund Hunter (Hora et Semper) and the constabulary, Crowley was expelled from the property.
The committee wraps up its findings, and the Adepti in London decide to expel MacGregor Mathers. This effectively brings the original Golden Dawn to an end.
Mathers and his loyalists continue on, based out of Ahathöor Temple. The London Adepti, established at Isis-Urania Temple, form a new Executive Council, with Florence Farr as Moderator, a reinstated Annie Horniman as Scribe, and Edmund Hunter as Warden.
Around the same time, Mathers performs a ritual involving a sieve and a number of peas representing the members of the Executive Council “so that they might fall upon and confound one another with quarrels and continual disturbance.”
Dr. Edmund Berridge (Resurgam), the only senior Adept to dissent against the revolt of the London Adepti, establishes the Isis Temple in London with Mathers as Imperator, Berridge as Cancellarius, and Westcott (briefly) as Praemonstrator.
The subsequent year did not go smoothly for the London Adepti. There was significant disharmony and infighting amongst the members, much of it revolving around “secret groups” that began to proliferate within the Order.
In response, Yeats publishes a 30-page essay entitled “Is the Order of R.R. & A.C. to Remain a Magical Order?”
With the Order’s ceremonies in hand, Frank and Editha Jackson, better known in this case as Theo and Laura Horos, set up a cult called the Theocratic Unity. After many get taken in by their con, they were eventually caught and arrested for fraud and statutory rape, as part of a “Golden Dawn initiation”.
In the course of the trial, the Golden Dawn ceremonies were read in open court. Once this happened, both the allegiant and rebel factions of the Order had little choice but to distance themselves from the Golden Dawn name.
The trial ends with Theo being sent to prison for fifteen years and Laura for seven.
William Peck, who was in a “ghastly funk over the Horos affair…hurriedly burnt all his lectures, letters, jewels, robes” and Temple furniture. As such, Amen-Ra Temple fell into abeyance.
Florence Farr resigns from the Order, presumably over the Horos scandal.
The Order returns to its Three Chief governance structure, and the Adepti choose Percy Bullock, Dr. R.W. Felkin, and J.W. Brodie-Innes as their Chiefs, initially for the interim period of one year.
Lastly, the Order changes its name to the Hermetic Society of the Morgenröthe.
Arthur Edward Waite (Sacramentum Regis), Marcus Worsley Blackden (Ma Wahanu Thesi), and Rev. W.A. Ayton transform most of the Isis-Urania Temple into the Independent and Rectified Rite, but move their Order in a more Christian mystical direction.
Dr. R.W. Felkin creates the Order of the Stella Matutina, preserving the original Order’s magical tradition. Correspondingly, Amoun Temple #21 in London is established.
Mathers renames his loyalist section to the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega, going in a more Masonic direction. Mathers names himself Archon Basileus, the sole authority in his Order. Isis Temple is renamed to Alpha et Omega Temple, No. 1.
Around this time, Crowley breaks from the Matherses, betraying them through slander and theft, and attempts an occult attack against them.
Four years later, A.E. Waite and R.W. Felkin sign “The Most Faithful Agreement and Concordant” between their respective Orders.
Crowley begins publishing The Equinox in March 1909. With Vol. 1, No. 2, he publishes a significant amount of the Golden Dawn’s grade papers and ceremonies.
Mathers sues Crowley over the publication of the Golden Dawn documents, which he refers to as private and personal papers.
Mathers wins the case, but the consequences are minimal.
J.W. Brodie-Innes breaks from Dr. Felkin and the Stella Matutina, and rejoins the loyalists in the Alpha et Omega.
Brodie-Innes begins to resuscitate the remains of Amen-Ra Temple.
Horus Temple #5 at Bradford is closed in 1912, after 24 years of operation.
James Chapman-Taylor builds a large house in Havelock North, New Zealand which was to become known as Whare Ra (Maori for House of the Sun).
Dr. Felkin then travelled there, assisted by Dr. Westcott, by having appointed him Inspector of the Australasian Colleges of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia.
Dr. Felkin stayed there for three months and, during that time, the Smaragdum Thalasses Temple #49 was established.
Despite it being active and having had initiations the year before, A.E. Waite withdraws from the Isis-Urania Temple, taking his rituals with him, and shutters the Independent and Rectified Rite, having existed a period of a little over ten years.
Waite establishes the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross a little over a year later.
World War I breaks out in Europe, as a result of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.
Alpha et Omega Temple, No. 1 falls into abeyance with the outbreak of the war.
Dr. Felkin prepares to emigrate to New Zealand and, in doing so, sets a number of affairs in order.
First, he draws up a new Constitution for the Stella Matutina. Next, he reconstitutes the Amoun Temple #21, with himself, Dr. Hammond, and Christina M. Stoddart as its Chiefs. Lastly, he establishes the Hermes Temple #28 in Bristol. The Temple was consecrated on July 9, 1916.
On November 20, 1918, allegedly at the stroke of midnight, Samuel Liddell “MacGregor” Mathers dies in Paris at the age of 64, almost certainly from the Spanish Flu.
About two weeks later, his widow Moïna announces this to the Inner Order, and declares that MacGregor named J.W. Brodie-Innes to be his successor as Archon Basileus of the Alpha et Omega.
The Grand Chiefs of the Alpha et Omega establish the Ptah Temple #10, in Philadelphia.
Five years after the reconstitution of Amoun Temple #21, one of its Chiefs, Christina Stoddart, spun herself into a bout of paranoia and significant mental illness.
In this process, she suddenly shuttered the Temple, and began writing occult conspiracy theory-based books under the pen name “Inquire Within”.
The Temple was revived at a later date by Rev. A.H.E. Lee and Dr. W.E. Carnegie-Dickson.
The Grand Chiefs of the Alpha et Omega establish the Atoum Temple #20, in Los Angeles.
After a short stint leading the Thoth-Hermes Temple, Moïna Mathers expels P.F. Case over “his attempt to dishonour the memory of our late Chief [MacGregor Mathers]”.
Not much later, Case establishes the School of Ageless Wisdom. In 1938, he changes the name to the Builders of the Adytum.
Ahathöor Temple #7 is said to have gone into abeyance, after nearly 29 continuous years in operation.
John William Brodie-Innes dies at the age of 75.
His appointed successor as Archon Basileus of the Alpha et Omega was W.E. Carnegie Dickson.
Robert William Felkin dies at the age of 73.
His appointed successor as ruling Chief of the Stella Matutina was his wife, Harriet M. Felkin.
Regardie ascended through the Grades rapidly and took less than two years to achieve the Grade of Theoricus Adeptus Minor in November 1934. A month later, he resigns from the Stella Matutina.
Then, in 1937, Regardie publishes Volume One of The Golden Dawn. He then publishes a new volume every year, concluding with Volume Four in 1940.
Germany invades Poland, sparking the beginning of World War II.
Those Temples which hadn’t already fallen into abeyance by this point pretty much do so as the war plays out. The two Temples that maintain some sense of continuity are Hermes Temple #28 and Smaragdum Thalasses Temple #49.
William Elliot Carnegie dies at the age of 66.
Over a year later, his wife is appointed as a Chief of Hermes Temple #28.
Harriet M. Felkin dies at the age of 72.
Three new Chiefs are appointed for Smaragdum Thalasses Temple #49.
Hermes Temple #28 goes into abeyance, after nearly 44 continuous years in operation.
On a beach between Selsey Bill and Bracklesham Bay in Sussex, a box containing a collection of Alpha et Omega papers, ritual implements, regalia, and banners was found. On one of the implements was written Ex Fide Fortis, which was the motto of Maiya Tranchell-Hayes.
Apparently, this box had been buried in a cliff-side garden and, over years of erosion, that area of the cliff gave way, causing the box to fall on to the beach below.
Smaragdum Thalasses Temple #49 officially shutters its doors, after 66 continuous years in operation.
This event concludes the history of the original Order of the Golden Dawn and its offshoots, the Independent and Rectified Rite, the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega, and the Order of the Stella Matutina.