By Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero
Once we had discovered Regardie’s book The Golden Dawn, there was no denying that we had indeed found our true spiritual path. Here was a system of magic that was effective and efficient. Everything about the Golden Dawn tradition seemed harmonious and elegant—every piece of the system fit perfectly with every other piece, like a finely-crafted symphony. The richness of the Golden Dawn’s teachings was evident on every page. Prayers, invocations, and the sheer poetry of such phrases as “By Names and Images are all Powers Awakened and Reawakened” resonated deeply and drew us in like moths to a flame. We were hooked.
However, it was the mid-1970s, and the Golden Dawn, as a magical Order, seemed to have been dead for several decades. It was at this point that our temple, a new temple of the Golden Dawn, was formed in Columbus, Georgia, using Regardie’s book The Golden Dawn as a guide. In 1977 we founded a Golden Dawn temple and rented a house that would be used only for magical work. Located on an acre of land, the temple house was set back away from the road in a grove of old Pecan trees. One day while we were exploring all the rooms in the house, we came upon a hidden door behind one of the walls in the attic. This led into a small room over the carport, where we found an Altar and some magical implements dating back to the early 1930’s. Someone had been using this hidden room for Masonic rituals. We took this to be a good omen!
Work on the temple rooms began immediately, starting with the Neophyte Hall and the Vault of the Adepti. The dining room was transformed into a Neophyte Hall and the parlor became the filled with the framework for the Vault. Our temple was christened Isis-Urania, after the original London temple of Mathers, Westcott, and Woodman. We formed a study group within the temple to examine the rituals and knowledge lectures in Regardie’s book. When the Neophyte Hall was finished, we initiated ourselves into the 0=0 grade. We then initiated about fourteen others.
About a year after we had established our Golden Dawn temple, we came into contact with the Ordo Templi Orientis. Convinced that the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was dead outside of our own local temple, we joined the OTO to supplement our esoteric studies. Shortly thereafter, half of the temple house was dedicated to the OTO, and half was dedicated to the Golden Dawn. (It was truly a house divided!) Eventually Grady McMurty, the Caliph of the OTO, gave us Israel Regardie’s mailing address so that we could contact him. We were stunned to learn that Israel Regardie was alive and well and living in Sedona, Arizona!
Our correspondence with Regardie began in 1981. In a letter dated September 26, 1981, Regardie expressed his excitement about the prospect of seeing our Vault: “The truth is I haven’t seen a Vault since about 1935, and if your Vault is a functioning one, with a pastos, etc. one of these days, if and when I feel more like a human being, and have a few excess bucks, I might pay Columbus, Georgia a visit just to see your temple and the Vault.” Regardie was very interested in the Vault’s progress. He sent us an Order manuscript describing the symbolism of the Vault to help us in completing the structure. By May of 1982, the Vault was finished.
We first met Regardie, who insisted that we call him “Francis,” in June of 1982 when he came to visit us for a week of workshops and initiations. Our temple members were treated to several lectures on the Qabalah, the history of the Order, the Pentagram Ritual, and other topics.
When we had originally decorated the temple house in 1977, we unknowingly placed a reproduction of an old Rembrandt painting on the closet door which led into the Second Order chamber and the Vault of the Adepti. While Regardie was visiting our temple we discovered that this painting, entitled “A man in Armour,” was said to represent none other than Christian Rosenkreutz. Another good omen!
On June 24, 1982, the day of Corus Christi, all members of Isis-Urania gathered at the Temple. Acting as Chief Adept, Regardie consecrated our Vault. In the days that followed, Regardie performed two Adeptus Minor initiations, establishing an initiatory lineage and a fully functioning Second Order. After that he assumed the office of Hierophant, consecrated our Neophyte Hall, and performed a Neophyte initiation. It was the only time that Regardie ever took on these offices and performed these ceremonies; they were the only Golden Dawn initiations he ever performed. Immediately after this eventful week, we travelled with Regardie to New Orleans and spent several days relaxing and celebrating the resurrection of the Golden Dawn in the U.S.A.
Our friendship with Regardie resulted in many long phone conversations as well as several trips to Arizona—including a two-week visit in 1982, three one-week visits in 1983, two one-week visits in 1984, and a final two-week visit in 1985 only ten days before Regardie’s death.
A typical day with Israel Regardie was spent in laughter and long discussions on magic which would last for hours. During teaching sessions, Regardie covered different aspects of Golden Dawn magic, including the correct way to project energy, how to charge talismans using the Projection Sign and the Sign of Silence, as well as talismans using the Middle Pillar ritual, different methods of healing, and the Opening by Watchtower, a ritual that Regardie had written.
Regardie’s sudden death on March 10, 1985, only days after our final visit to his Arizona home, was a huge shock. Days later, we performed the Requiem Ceremony from The Golden Dawn in his honor, in conjunction with the reading of one of his favorite pieces, “The Prayer of the Sylphs” from the Theoricus Ritual. But the work that Regardie had started in resurrecting the Order was destined to continue.
By that time, three of us who had been a part of that momentous weekend in Georgia in 1982, had already established functioning Golden Dawn temples and were working together as an Order (the Isis-Urania Temple and another Southern temple, both of which were founded in the 1970s, and the Osiris Khenti Amenti Temple in Los Angeles which was founded in 1982). Shortly after Regardie’s death, we decided to form a traditional triad of Order Chiefs, coequal in authority, who would govern all of the temples working with us. Daughter temples were eventually founded in other states and in other countries.
As our personal involvement with the Golden Dawn began to increase, our interest in the OTO began to decline. Two things were fundamental to our decision to focus on the Golden Dawn as our primary spiritual path. The first was the elegance of the Golden Dawn system itself, and the fact that it had always been our main path from the beginning. The second was Israel Regardie—his friendship, mentoring, and guidance.
The Light Extended
As friends and students of Israel Regardie, we are grateful to have received certain documents which bring Regardie’s Golden Dawn legacy full circle. In 1997 we were given a charter for all the esoteric lineages held by the Societas Rosicruciana in America, the organization which initiated Regardie’s search for the Golden Dawn back in 1926. We were also given the complete archives of Regardie’s personal documents and letters which were formerly owned by the Israel Regardie Foundation. We consider the single greatest value in all of these items to be the connection they provide us to the one man who was so instrumental in our own personal quest for the Light—our beloved Frater A.M.A.G.
Today, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is alive and thriving. The Order serves as a custodian of the Hermetic Tradition, keeping the knowledge of this tradition intact, while at the same time instructing those individuals called to the Initiatory Path of the Mysteries. By definition, the various strands of the Hermetic Tradition include the ancient Egyptian, Græco-Egyptian, and Græco-Roman mystery religions; Neoplatonism, Iamblichan theurgy, Gnosticism, Qabalah, alchemy, Rosicrucianism, and Esoteric Christianity. This tradition holds a belief in both the macrocosm and the microcosm and seeks to comprehend both. It is ultimately monotheistic, although it conceives of the ultimate Divinity, which is both immanent and transcendent, as emanating through various forms and expressions. The curriculum of the modern-day Order has grown well beyond the material published by Regardie and others, while remaining true to the Osirian/Rosicrucian tradition, spirit, structure, and fundamental vision of William Wynn Westcott, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and William Robert Woodman.
Our Order does not solicit for membership, and initiation is by invitation only. Nevertheless, H.O.G.D. promotes tolerance for all spiritual paths and holds to the fundamental Rosicrucian principle that spiritual wisdom should be given gratis. And we hold to the view that Spiritual Wisdom may be gained from the most unexpected of sources. As the old axiom reminds us, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”