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Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

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The original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was a magical fraternity founded in London in 1888 by Dr. William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, which ceased to exist under that name in 1903 but which continued under at least two spin-off organizations, the Stella Matutina and the Alpha et Omega, as well as a renamed faction headed by Arthur Edward Waite that underwent further splits. According to Liber LXI, the A.'.A.'. system of Aleister Crowley and George Cecil Jones was also a reformed perpetuation of the Golden Dawn order.

One of the conditions of initiation in the original "Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn" was that inductees were obligated to keep the actual name of the group secret. Advertisements called the group "Hermetic students of the G.D." While "Golden Dawn" is often used to describe the entire organization and magical system of the participants, it was properly only the name of the Outer Order, in which aspirants were initiated through a series of degrees using Freemasonic techniques amplified through Hermetic and occult symbolism and doctrines. Actual magical practices were reserved for the adepts of the Inner Order, which employed predominantly Rosicrucian symbolism, and was called Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis.'

Influences on Golden Dawn concepts and work include freemasonry, theosophy, Eliphas Levi, Papus and medieval grimoire magic. The synthesis of these influences into a system of practical ritual magic was largely through the work of Mathers, who at times was teaching things he had discovered only days or hours before.

The "Golden Dawn," as it is commonly referred to, was probably the single greatest influence on twentieth-century western occultism. While it existed, it was the focal point of the (re-)development of magical thinking in Europe. In it, most concepts of magick and ritual that have since become core elements of Thelema, Wicca, western mystery schools and other forms of magical spirituality were synthesized. Even the supposedly de novo Chaos magick pursued by the magical order of the Illuminates of Thanateros is arguably indebted to Golden Dawn magic, and the latter remains the spiritual core of nearly all of the more ceremonial branches of western magic.

In its heyday, many cultural celebrities belonged to the Golden Dawn. Some well known members include:


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