THE GOLDEN DAWN
The original Order of the Golden Dawn was founded in 1888 with the establishment of the Isis-Urania Temple in London England. The foundational rituals of initiation were decoded from a set of cipher manuscripts received by William Wynn Westcott, who called upon his fellow free mason Samual Liddell MacGregor Mathers to assist with turning these deciphered manuscripts into a coherent system of initiation and magic. This temple was founded for the purpose of guiding initiates through the initiatic system outlined in the cipher manuscripts, and further opened the doors of membership and initiation to women on a perfect equality; a stark contrast to the Masonic background of these two gentlemen.
Upon deciphering these manuscripts, Westcott uncovered the address of a German Countess and prominent Rosicrucian, Anna Sprengel, and wrote to her to gain additional information regarding the cyphers and in an attempt to further flesh out the Initiatic system the cipher manuscripts had outlined.
Sprengel claimed to have supernatural contact with a collection of entities known as the 'secret chiefs' which were considered to be authorities over every magical order or esoteric society, and had given permission to Mathers and Westcott to form the Order of the Golden Dawn in accordance with the formulas found within the manuscripts and her guidance.
Their temple was to teach the mysteries and conduct the rituals consistent with the five grades outlined in the cipher manuscripts. Initially, that temple and that order taught solely what was provided in those manuscripts, and conducted no additional magic or ritual work beyond those teachings. The order at that time was more of a philosophical and metaphysical teaching group, rather than an active practicing magical fraternity.
Once a sufficient number of members had completed the lessons and work prescribed in the cipher manuscripts and what would later be known as the 'outer order', it became clear that additional teachings and modes of Initiation were necessary to allow for a continuous line of Initiation to the members. Thus, the grade structure we see today was created, and the 'Inner Order' was founded, based on the Rosicrucian mysteries of the Crypt of Christian Rosencrutz. This structure was based on that of the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross (a German Rosicrucian Order). Over time, additional grades were added to streamline the Initiatory process for the members, and practical personal work and magic was introduced and added to both orders.
Our modern day order is founded upon various ancient mystery schools and traditions, and most importantly upon the research, experimentation, and work of hundreds adepts pursuing their own Illumination and enriching the precious tradition they were introduced to.
Currently, several topics of practice and research are integrated at the core of our tradition:
Ours is a thriving and developing tradition, based on the ancient mysteries and the foundational efforts of our predecessors, and grown and enhanced through the efforts of our present-day members. Our livelihood stems from our commitment to providing a strong collaborative environment within which all members can properly grow into their own adepthood and contribute to the tradition which we all teach and practice.