Secret Society Freemasons
The actual origins of the Freemasons have been lost in time. However, most scholars believe Freemasons arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Some of the oldest records mention Freemasons existing as early as 926 A.D.
It was in 1717 that Freemasons created a formal organization when four Lodges in London joined together to form Englands first Grand Lodge. In the United States the first Masonic circles began to appear in 1733.

By the time of the American Revolution nearly 150 lodges existed throughout the colonies. The Masonic ideals of tolerance, brotherhood and political liberty resonated in the institutions, documents and even the symbols which soon came to define the new American Republic. Down through history the Freemasons membership has included some of the worlds most gifted and talented people :

George Washington, Paul Revere, Cpt. James Cook, Douglas MacArthur, Lord Mountbatten, Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, Barry M. Golwater, senator, Charles Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotel chain, Rev. Jesse Jackson, civil rights leader, John H. Johnson, publisher Ebony and Jet Magazines, J.C. Penny, department store founder, Andre Citroen, founder Citroen Motor Car Co, Sir Winston Churchill, Alexander Eiffel, designer of the Eiffel Tower, James Smithson, founder Smithsonian Institute, Sir Joseph Banks, Kew Gardens, London, Frederick Bartholdi, Statue of Liberty, Irving Berlin, Ludwig van Beethoven, Gilbert & Sullivan, W.C. Handy, Franz Haydn, Jerome Kern, Franz Liszt, Wolfgang Mozart, Hans Schuler, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and Al Jolson.

The Freemasons are the worlds most famous secret society.

A 400 year old organization whose influence is the subject of intense debate and a favorite subject of conspiracy theorists worldwide. The Freemasons has an estimated 6 million worldwide members. The first organized opposition to Freemasons came from the Roman Catholic Church. Papal Bulls, official declarations and other pronouncements from the Vatican have condemned the order. The Freemasons have a tolerant approach to the worlds various religions. Others feared the Masonic ideals of religious toleration and the notion of political liberty which percolated through 18th century culture through the Enlightenment. Leading Enlightenment figures from Voltaire to D’Alambert were initiated into the lodges, along with scientists, writers, and freethinkers. Even some clergy joined. In 1739, Pope Clement condemned the order, and even into the twentieth century, the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law prohibited church follow ers from joining Masonic Lodges.

Faith must be the center of our lives. No one person has the right to tell another person what he or she must think or believe. Each person has a responsibility to be a good citizen and obey the law. It is important to work together to make the world a better place for all. Freemasons donate $2 million dollars each and every day to charity. This has made possible the commitment of substantial assets to community welfare that include hospitals and homes for the aged. These days a Freemason can travel to almost any country in the world and find a Masonic Lodge where he will be greeted and welcomed as a “Brother”. There are currently over 14,000 Masonic Lodges around the world.

Secret Society Ebgo
A former African secret society of Calabar, near the Tiger Delta. The name means “Tiger”. The secret society was divided into eleven grades. Members generally paid their way into the higher grades. The King was President of the secret society under the title of Cyamba. Each grade had a special festival. A member of the Ebgo has the right to claim as his own property the slave of a debtor. The standing in the community of an Abgo is still respected and feared. It is very helpful to those engaged in business.

Secret Society Mau Mau
A secret society among the Kikyu Tribesfolk of Kenya. The Mau Mau were most active between 1952 to 1960. The Mau Mau were bound by oaths and strict ritual practise. They inflicted terror on Kenyans who refused to become members.

Secret Society Ndembo
A former African secret society of the lower Congo. Initiation was via the Ganga who instucted the neophyte at a certain signal to lay down as if dead. A shroud was spread over and he was carried off to outside the village and pronounced to have died a Ndembo. Up to fifty candidates may do this initiation at the one time.

Secret Society Maranos
Maranos was a Jewish secret society which originated in Spain in the 14th and 15th centuries. It was during a time of extreme persecution of Jews in Spain by the catholic church. Maranos members met in secret, were disguised, used special grips, signs and passwords.

Secret Society Little World
The Little World was a secret society that originated in England during the 18th century. The purpose of the society was to re-establish the Stuart dynasty. The members of the Little World were also believed to be Freemasons.

Secret Society Katean
The Katean were a secret society of the Moluccas. Initiates were introduced into Katean through an aperture in the form of a Crocodile`s jaw or a Cassowary`s beak. After remaining for a few days he was removed to another secret location. Only after two months was he allowed to return home, now as a member of the Katean.

Secret Society Golden Dawn
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (or, more commonly, the Golden Dawn) was a magical order of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, practicing a form of theurgy and spiritual development. It was probably the single greatest influence on twentieth century western occultism. Concepts of magic and ritual that became core elements of many other traditions, including Wicca, Thelema and other forms of magical spirituality popular today, are drawn from the Golden Dawn tradition. The three founders, Dr. William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers were Freemasons and members of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (S.R.I.A.), an appendant body to Freemasonry. Westcott, also a member of the Theosophical Society, appears to have been the initial driving force behind the establishment of the Golden Dawn. Influences on Golden Dawn concepts and work include: Christian mysticism, Qabalah, Hermeticism, the religion of Ancient Egypt, Theurgy, Freemasonry, Alchemy, Theosophy, Eliphas Levi, Papus, Enochian magic, and Renaissance grimoires. The fundamental basis of the original Order of the Golden Dawn was a collection of documents known as the Cipher Manuscripts, written in English using a cipher attributed to Johannes Trithemius. The Manuscripts give the specific outlines of the Grade Rituals of the Order, and prescribe a curriculum of specifically graduated teachings that encompass the Hermetic Qabalah, Astrology, Tarot, Geomancy and Alchemy. The manuscripts were passed on from Kenneth Mackenzie, a Masonic scholar, to Rev. A.F.A. Woodford, whom Francis King acknowledges as the fourth founder (although Woodford died shortly after the Order was founded). The documents did not excite Woodford, and in February 1886 he passed them on to Dr. Westcott and by 1887 Westcott managed to decode them. Westcott was pleased with his discovery, called on Mathers for a second opinion, and asked for cooperation in turning the manuscripts into a coherent system for lodge work. Mathers then called on William Robert Woodman to assist by being a third collaborator and Woodman, it seems, accepted. Likewise, Mathers and Dr. Westcott have been credited for developing the ritual outlines in the Cipher Manuscripts into a workable format. Mathers, however, is generally credited with the design of the curriculum and rituals of the Second Order, which he called the Rosae Rubae et Aureae Crucis (“Ruby Rose and Golden Cross”, or the RR et AC). Another theory states that the Cipher Manuscripts had been received by noted Masonic scholar Kenneth Mackenzie from the Secret Chiefs of the “Third Order,” a continental Rosicrucian mystery school into which Mackenzie had been initiated by Count Apponyi of Hungary. using the Cipher Manuscripts, Mackenzie founded “The Society of Eight” as the first phase of what was to later become the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It should be noted in this context that Mackenzie’s group was Temple No. 1, and Frederick Hockley, another member of “The Society of Eight”, founded Temple No. 2. Thus when the Golden Dawn was founded, its first temple, Isis-Urania, was numbered as No. 3.

The Founding of the Golden Dawn:
In October of 1887, Westcott wrote to Anna Sprengel, whose name and address he received through the decoding of the Cipher Manuscripts. A reply was purported to have been received with much wisdom, and honorary grades of Exempt Adept were conferred upon Westcott, Mathers and Woodman, as well as a charter to establish a Golden Dawn temple to work the five grades outlined in the manuscripts. In 1888, the Isis-Urania Temple in London was founded, in which the rituals decoded from the cipher manuscripts were developed and practiced. In addition, there was an insistence on women being allowed to participate in the Order in “perfect equality” with men, which was in contrast to the S.R.I.A. and Masonry. The original Lodge founded in 1888 did not teach any magical practices per se (except for basic “banishing” rituals and meditation), but was rather a philosophical and metaphysical teaching order. This was called “the Outer Order”, and for four years the Golden Dawn existed only in “the Outer”. The “Inner Order”, which became active in 1892, was the circle of Adepts who had completed the entire course of study and Initiations of the Outer Order contained in the Cipher Manuscripts. This group eventually became known as the Second Order (the Outer Order being the “First” Order). In a short time, the Osiris temple in Weston-super-Mare, the Horus temple in Bradford, and the Amen-Ra temple in Edinburgh were founded. A few years after this, Mathers founded the Ahathoor temple in Paris.

The Secret Chiefs of the Golden Dawn:
In 1891 the correspondence with Anna Sprengel suddenly ceased, and Westcott received word from Germany that either she was dead or her companions did not approve of the founding of the Order, and that no further contact was to be made. If the founders were to contact the Secret Chiefs, therefore, it had to be done on their own. It was about this time that Dr. Woodman died, never having seen the Second Order. In 1892, Mathers claimed a link to the Secret Chiefs had been formed, and supplied rituals for the Second, or Inner, Order called the Red Rose and Cross of Gold. These rituals were based on the tradition of the tomb of Christian Rosenkreuz, and a Vault of Adepts became the controlling force behind the Outer Order. Later in 1916, Westcott claimed that Mathers also constructed these rituals from materials he received from Frater Lux ex Tenebris, a purported Continental Adept. Some followers of the Golden Dawn tradition believe that the Secret Chiefs are not necessarily living humans or supernatural beings, but are symbolic of actual and legendary sources of spiritual esotericism, a great leader or teacher of a spiritual path or practice that found its way into the teachings of the Order.

The Golden Age of the Golden Dawn:
By the mid 1890s, the Golden Dawn was well established in Great Britain, with membership rising to over a hundred from every class of Victorian society. In its heyday, many cultural celebrities belonged to the Golden Dawn, such as actress Florence Farr and Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne. Some well known members included Arthur Machen, William Butler Yeats, Evelyn Underhill, and Aleister Crowley. Many men and women of the 19th century Fin de siècle social culture were members of the Golden Dawn. Around 1897, Westcott broke all ties to the Golden Dawn, leaving Mathers in complete control. It is speculated that this was due to some occult papers having been found in a hansom cab, in which his connection to the Golden Dawn came to the attention of his superiors. He was told to either resign from the Order or to give up his occupation as coroner. While there is no proof of Mathers having planted the papers, it appears that the relationship between Mathers and Westcott all but ended after this point. After Westcott’s departure, Mathers appointed Florence Farr to be Chief Adept in Anglia. (Although Westcott publicly resigned, he must have continued in some capacity since there are Lodge documents bearing his signature dated years after his “resignation”.) This left Mathers as the only active founding member and in charge of the Order. Due to personality clashes with other members, and being absent from the center of Lodge activity in Great Britain, challenges to Mathers’ authority as leader began to develop amongst the members of the Second Order.

The revolt in the Golden Dawn:
Towards the end of 1899, the Adepts of the Isis-Urania and Amen-Ra temples had become extremely dissatisfied with Mathers’ leadership, as well as his growing friendship with Crowley. They were also anxious to make contact with the Secret Chiefs, instead of dealing with them through Mathers. Among the personal disagreements within the Isis-Urania temple, disputes were arising from Florence Farr’s The Sphere, a secret society within the Isis-Urania, and the rest of the Adept Minors. Crowley was refused initiation into the Adeptus Minor grade by the London officials. Yet Mathers overrode this and quickly initiated him at the Ahathoor temple in Paris on January 16th, 1900. Upon his return to the London temple, he requested the grade papers to which he was now entitled from Miss Cracknell, the acting secretary. To the London Adepts, this was the last straw. Farr, already of the opinion that the London temple should be closed, wrote to Mathers expressing her wish to resign as his representative, though she was willing to carry on until a successor was found. Mathers replied to this on February 16th, believing Westcott was behind this turn of events. Once the other Adepts in London were notified, they elected a committee of seven on March 3rd and requested a full investigation of the matter. Mathers sent an immediate reply, declining to provide proof, refusing to acknowledge the London temple, and dismissing Farr as his representative on March 23rd. In response, a general meeting was called on March 29th in London to remove Mathers as chief and expel him from the Order.

Splinters of the Golden Dawn:
After the Isis-Urania temple claimed its independence, there were even more disputes, leading to Yeats resigning. A committee of three was to temporarily govern, which included P.W. Bullock, M.W. Blackden and J. W. Brodie-Innes. After a short time, Bullock resigned, and Dr. Robert Felkin took his place. In 1903, Waite and Blackden joined forces to retain the name Isis-Urania, while Felkin and other London members formed the Stella Matutina, and Brodie-Innes continued his Amen-Ra temple in Edinburgh.

Reconstruction of the Golden Dawn:
Once Mathers realised that there was to be no reconciliation, he began to make efforts to reestablish himself in London. The Bradford and Weston-super-Mare temples remained loyal to him, but their numbers were few. He then appointed Edward Berridge as his representative, who proceeded to begin working the ceremonies and rites of the Golden Dawn in West London as early as 1903. According to Francis King, historical evidence shows that there were “twenty three members of a flourishing Second Order under Berridge-Mathers in 1913.”[30] J.W. Brodie-Innes continued the direction of the Amen-Ra temple, and had reached a conclusion that the revolt was unjustified. By 1908, Mathers and Brodie-Innes were in complete accord. According to sources that differ regarding the actual date, sometime between 1901 and 1913 Mathers renamed the branch of the Golden Dawn remaining loyal to his leadership to Alpha et Omega. Brodie-Innes assumed command of the English and Scottish temples, while Mathers concentrated on building up his Ahathoor temple and extending his American connection. According to Israel Regardie, the Golden Dawn had spread to the United States of America before 1900, and a Thoth-Hermes temple had been founded in Chicago. By the commencement of the First World War, Mathers had established two to three American temples.

The Structure of the Order of the Golden Dawn:
The Grades of the Golden Dawn

First Order:

Introduction-Neophyte 0=0
Zelator 1=10
Theoricus 2=9
Practicus 3=8
Philosophus 4=7

Second Order: Intermediate-Portal Grade

Adeptus Minorus 5=6
Adeptus Majorus 6=5
Adeptus Exemptus 7=4

Third Order:

Magister Templi 8=3
Magus 9=2
Ipsissimus 10=1

The paired numbers attached to the Grades relate to positions on the Tree of Life. The Neophyte Grade of “0=0” indicates no position on the Tree. For the others, the first numeral is the number of steps up from the bottom (Malkuth), and the second numeral is the number of steps down from the top (Kether). The First Order Grades were related to the four Classical Elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire, respectively. The Aspirant to a Grade received instruction on the metaphysical meaning of each of these Elements, and had to pass a written examination and demonstrate certain skills to receive Admission to that Grade. The Portal Grade was the initiation ritual for admittance to the Second Order. The Circle of existing Adepts from the Second Order had to consent to allow an Aspirant to join the Second Order. The Second Order was not, properly, part of the “Golden Dawn”, but a separate Order in its own right, known as the R.R. et A.C. The Second Order directed the teachings of the First Order, and was the governing force behind the First Order. After passing the Portal, the Aspirant was instructed in the techniques of practical Magic. When another examination was passed, and the other Adepts consented, the Aspirant attained the Grade of Adeptus Minor (5=6). There were also four sub-Grades of instruction for the Adeptus Minor, again relating to the four Outer Order grades. A member of the Second Order had the power and authority to initiate aspirants to the First Order, though usually not without the permission of the Chiefs of his or her Lodge.

The Golden Dawn book:
The Golden Dawn as system and book has been the most intensively used source for modern western occult and magical writing. As a book it is both a text and an encyclopedia.

Known members of the Golden Dawn:

  • Sara Allgood (1879-1950), Irish stage actress and later film actress in America.
  • Allan Bennett (1872-1923), best known for introducing Buddhism to the West
  • Arnold Bennett (1867-1931), a British novelist
  • Dr. Edward Berridge, homeopathic physician
  • Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951), English writer and radio broadcaster of supernatural stories
  • Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), occult writer and mountaineer
  • Florence Farr (1860-1917), London stage actress and musician
  • Robert Felkin (1853-1925), medical missionary, explorer and anthropologist in Central Africa, author
  • Frederick Leigh Gardner
  • Maud Gonne (1866-1953), Irish Revolutionary, author, feminist
  • Annie Horniman (1860-1937), repertory theatre producer and pioneer. Her father was a wealthy tea importer (he also endowed the Horniman Museum); her family’s wealth funded most of the Golden Dawn’s activities. Consequently, she was one of the very few members immune to the in-fighting and competitiveness which ultimately led to the Order’s dissolution.
  • Arthur Machen (1863-1947), a leading London journalist of the 1890s, Welsh by birth and upbringing
  • Gustav Meyrink (1868-1932), Austrian author, storyteller, dramatist, translator, banker and Buddhist
  • E. Nesbit (1858-1924), real name Edith Bland: English author and political activist
  • Charles Rosher (1885-1974), cinematographer
  • Pamela Colman Smith (1878-1951), fin de siècle artist and co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck
  • William Sharp (1855-1905), poet and author, alias “Fiona MacLeod”
  • Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), Christian Mystic, author of “Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness”.
  • Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942), author, Freemason and co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck
  • Charles W. S. Williams (1886-1945), was a British writer and poet
  • William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Irish poet, dramatist and writer, Nobel Prize for Literature (1923).

The Inner Chiefs were transcendental beings of the inner planes. It was said they provided spiritual guidance. It was the Inner Chiefs that MacGregor claimed were the source of his authority. However some within the group had doubts about their existence.

The Golden Dawn grades covered the first four spheres of the tree of life. The Rosae Rubae Et Aurae Crucis grades the next three. The Third Order grades were Magister Templi “Binah”, Magus “Chokmah” and Ipsissmus. Ipsissimus was the supreme ritual grade of the Third Order indicating that the magician had attained the state of consciousness symbolized by Kether on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.

The term Hegemon applies to a ceremonial role that represents the Goddess of Truth and Justice. The Hegemon presides over the acceptance of the new candidates for the grade of Neophyte.

Enochian is a system of magic that was derived from the work of John Dee and Edward Kelley. The system was passed on to Dee and Kelley by the angels who worked through the pair. The actual scrying method of Enochian magic was recorded in Dee’s diary Libri Mysteriorum. Enochian magic was subsequently incorporated into the magical practise of the ritual magicians of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

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