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The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript

Hermetic Library Fellow John Michael Greer reviews The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript edited by Darcy Küntz, introduced by R A Gilbert, in the archive of Caduceus: The Hermetic Quarterly.

Küntz Gilbert The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript

Nearly a century after its rise and fall, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn remains at once the most famous and the most puzzling of the magical orders of the modern West. The outlines and many details of its brief career have been traced out in a number of works, most notably Ellic Howe’s waspish but capable The Magicians of the Golden Dawn (1972). Still, conundrums aplenty await both the scholar who wishes to explore the Order’s place in history and the practitioner who hopes to gain a better grasp of the Order’s teachings.

The murkiest of these, unquestionably, have to do with the origins of the Order and its system of magic, and it has not helped that the document at the root of the whole phenomenon – the mysterious “cipher manuscript” which, according to the Order’s own mythology, gave Golden Dawn founders William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Mathers the framework of the Order’s rituals and the address of the mysterious Fraulein Sprengel – had been published only in incomplete form. Fortunately, this has now been remedied.

The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript is precisely that, a facsimile and translation of the core document of the Golden Dawn system, giving the grade rituals of the Order in skeleton form along with elements of the Order’s magical teachings. The whole is clear and readable, and has been ably annotated and provided with a useful bibliography of relevant works. An appendix includes a Golden Dawn knowledge lecture on the Tarot which was extracted from the manuscript.

In addition, this volume contains R. A. Gilbert’s fascinating essay “Provenance Unknown: A Tentative Solution to the Riddle of the Cipher Manuscript of the Golden Dawn.” Gilbert’s suggestion is that the original cipher manuscript came to Westcott from the papers of Kenneth Mackenzie, a major figure in Victorian esoteric masonic circles, and may well have been Mackenzie’s work. While the evidence involved is largely circumstantial, Gilbert makes a good case for his suggestion, and in the process helps to link the Golden Dawn more clearly with the murky realm of Victorian fringe Masonry from which it emerged.

This volume is presented as Volume 1 of a “Golden Dawn Studies” series, with at least eight other volumes forthcoming. If these reach the standards of this first book, the whole collection may well become required reading for scholars and practitioners of the Golden Dawn system alike.

The Golden Dawn Source Book

A review of The Golden Dawn Source Book with introduction and foreword by Darcy Küntz, preface by R A Gilbert, with articles by Gerald Suster, R T Prinke, Ellic Howe, and Richard Kaczynski, part of the Golden Dawn Studies series; from Caduceus, Vol II No 4.

Küntz Gilbert The Golden Dawn Source Book

For all that the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is far and away the most famous of modern magical lodges, the basic documents concerning its history have not been easy to come by, except for those with personal access to the handful of private collections in which the bulk of surviving GD documents reside. While the outlines of the Order’s history have been traced by a number of useful histories, very little of a documentary nature has been available to those who prefer to draw their own conclusions from the evidence.

The appearance of this second volume in Holmes Publishing Group’s Golden Dawn Studies Series suggests that this unfortunate state of affairs will soon be a thing of the past. Like the first volume (reviewed in Caduceus’ Spring 1996 issue), which provided and translated the original Golden Dawn cipher manuscripts The Golden Dawn Source Book is likely to become an essential starting point for all further work on the subject.

The Golden Dawn Source Book has for its focus the origins and development of the Order, and brings together between one set of covers nearly everything that sheds light on this often vexed topic. Included here is the complete “Anna Sprengel” correspondence in its original English translation, relevant entries from W. Wynn Westcott’s diary, a wide selection of letters tracing the Order’s prehistory and history alike, the public letters and articles that announced the GD’s existence to the world, and a collection of published histories of the Order by a range of members.

In addition, the Source Book contains a collection of modern essays on the Order’s early history, including contributions from nearly all sides of the various disputes in which the interpretation of that history seems permanently mired. Notable among these are Ron Heisler’s “Precursors of the Golden Dawn,” a valuable study of earlier Kabbalistic societies in London, as well as several documents from the controversy over Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn including Gerald Suster’s incendiary critique of Howe, “Modern Scholarship and the Origins of the Golden Dawn,” and Howe’s amused response.

Finally, the Source Book concludes with a comprehensive, cross-referenced index of the names and magical mottoes of all known Golden Dawn members from the temples in England, North America and New Zealand, a crucial reference tool that has been attempted several times before with a good deal less success.

Series editor Darcy Küntz should be commended for a valuable and well-presented work. While it has little to appeal to the purely practical magician, the Source Book is a welcome addition to the still-limited library of sources on esoteric history, and students of the Golden Dawn and its antecedents in particular will find it a useful resource.

Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries

Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries by Pat Zalewski, edited by Darcy Küntz, from the Rosicrucian Order of the Golden Dawn, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Pat Zalewski Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries

“This is not another beginner book on Magick that so many large publishing houses tend to print. This book was designed for the intermediate and advanced practitioner of the Order of the Golden Dawn. Pat Zalewski was fortunate enough to work with original members of the Stella Matutina and was taught the inner secrets of the Adepts. Now for the first time, these secrets are being published so that those who could benefit from this knowledge will learn as Zalewski had done with his mentor, Jack Taylor. Also being released for the first time is the connection between the Admission Badges and the Temple floor diagrams. Zalewski also discusses in-depth the God-form assumption techniques he learned. Many significant lessons are contained in this book that you will not get from any other source.” — Darcy Küntz, back cover

Weiser Antiquarian Books Catalogue #116 Israel Regardie and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Used and Rare Books

You may be interested in Weiser Antiquarian Books Catalogue #116 Israel Regardie and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Used and Rare Books.

“The majority of the books are from the library of a well-known English book-collector who is downsizing due to chronic lack of shelf (and floor) space. The collection includes most of the standard studies of the Golden Dawn, historical, theoretical and practical, by a variety of well known authors including R. A. Gilbert, Ellic Howe, R. A. Torrens, Chic & Tabatha Cicero, Darcy Kuntz, Pat Zalewski, and others, as well as various works by members of the original Order. Aside from mostly being in pristine condition, the books are distinguished by the fact that many are signed or inscribed by their authors or editors.

The catalogues also include a good selection of works by Israel Regardie, whose experience with the Stella Matutina led to the publication of his landmark compilation, The Golden Dawn, An Account of the Teachings, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, (4 Volumes — 1937–1940), since republished in a variety of different forms and formats. The current catalogue includes a number of books that are signed or inscribed by Israel Regardie including an extraordinary association set of the First Edition of The Golden Dawn, with each volume personally inscribed by Regardie to author and psychical researcher Hereward Carrington and including an additional handwritten note by Regardie. Other Regardie rarities include a copy of his The Enochian Dictionary (Circa 1971?) — which is without doubt one of the earliest of the modern Enochian research publications — and the seldom-seen first edition of The Art of True Healing. A Treatise on the Mechanism Prayer, and the Operation of the Law of Attraction in Nature (1937). As is well known Regardie for some time practised as a chiropractor and psychologist (P. R. Stephensen once unkindly termed him a “quack psychiatrist”) and two of the rarer items are pamphlets relating to this aspect of his career: Cry Havoc (1952), a study of the pitfalls of psychology, psychotherapy, and chiropractic; and the (by modern standards) rather chilling Analysis of a Homosexual (1949), a work in which Regardie recounts the case history of a patient whom he claims to have successfully “cured” of homosexuality.

The catalogue opens with a work called Springtime Two (1958). This anthology of poetry and prose by important avant-garde authors of the time is listed here as it includes the first publication of extracts from Ithell Colquhoun’s then-unpublished occult novel Goose of Hermogenes, her original poems: “Elegy on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn”, “Epithalamium”, and “Little Poems from Cyprus”, as well as some translations from French. We were able to secure a few copies of the book that had been in storage for a number of years, but these will almost certainly not last long. As always there are also a number of rarities scattered throughout the catalogue which include: an Edition de Luxe of L. A. Bosman’s, The Mysteries Of The Qabalah (1913?), inscribed by Alvin Langdon Coburn, a first printing of the W. Wynn Westcott edition of Eliphas Levi’s The Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum interpreted by the Tarot Trumps (1896), and a number of issues of A. Greville-Gascoigne’s The Golden Dawn Magazine (1939-1941), which included contributions by Israel Regardie and others.” [via]

The Battle of Blythe Road

The Battle of Blythe Road: A Golden Dawn Affair: Aleister Crowley and the Revolt of the Adepti edited and introduced by Darcy Kuntz, with material on and from Aleister Crowley, William Wynn Westcott, William Butler Yeats, Florence Farr and more from a pivotal moment for the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Western esotericism as a whole, Vol 14 of the Golden Dawn Studies Series, the 2005 second edition published by J D Holmes, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Darcy Kuntz The Battle of Blythe Road

“The history of the magical battle that Crowley ignited so he could win control of the Second Order of the Golden Dawn. Included are a number of the official documents that were issued as fallout from the events and excerpts from Crowley’s diary from that period.” [via]

The Serpent Myth

The Serpent Myth by William Wynn Westcott and Arthur Edward Waite, edited by Darcy Kuntz, Vol 9 of the Golden Dawn Studies Series, the 2006 third revised and enhanced edition published by J D Holmes, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

William Wynn Westcott Arthur Edward Waite The Serpent Myth

“An excellent treatise on this ancient symbol from the inner knowledge of the Golden Dawn system. First edition published in 1996. Revised with A. E. Waite’s paper on the Serpent Myth in 2001.” [via]

The Magic of a Symbol

The Magic of a Symbol by Florence Farr, edited with an introduction by Darcy Kuntz, Vol 6 of the Golden Dawn Studies Series, the 2005 second revised edition published by J D Holmes, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Florence Farr The Magic of a Symbol

“This book contains Florence Farr’s ideas on Symbolism, the Kabbalah, Egyptian Magic, the Vedanta, Rosicrucians, Alchemy and the Tree of Life. Edited with Introductory Note by Darcy Kuntz.” [via]

The Enochian Experiments of the Golden Dawn

The Enochian Experiments of the Golden Dawn: Enochian Alphabet Clairvoyantly Examined by Florence Farr, edited with an introduction and notes by Darcy Kuntz, Vol 7 of the Golden Dawn Studies Series, the 2007 third revised edition published by J D Holmes, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Florence Farr The Enochian Experiments of the Golden Gawn

“The experiments Farr conducted with the Sphere Group in 1901 with the events and experiences chronicled in her diary. Keys to the Enochian Language; a corrected Holy Table; and a rare full page plate also are included.” [via]

The Serpent’s Path

The Serpent’s Path: The Magical Plays of Florence Farr, compiled, edited and introduced by Darcy Kuntz, Vol 25 of the Golden Dawn Studies Series, the 2005 revised edition published by J D Holmes, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Florence Farr The Serpent's Path from Golden Dawn Studies Series

This volume contains four plays by Florence Farr: The Beloved of Hathor, The Shrine of the Golden Hawk, The Mystery of Time, and A Dialogue of Vision.

The Golden Dawn Source Book

The Golden Dawn Source Book [also, also], Golden Dawn Studies Series Number 2, edited with introduction by Darcy Küntz, preface by R A Gilbert, the 1996 first edition paperback from the Holmes Publishing Group, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Darcy Kuntz The Golden Dawn Source Book from Holmes Publishing Group

“The author has compiled the most important Golden Dawn letters and articles which illuminates the creation, foundation and growth of the Golden Dawn. This volume contains articles and essays by Ron Heisler, Ellic Howe, Richard Kaczynski, Francis King, Gareth Medway, R.T. Prinke and Gerald Suster. A complete cross-index is compiled for the first time of all Golden Dawn members and their mottoes including members from the Temples in England, New Zealand and North America.

Some Highlights of the Volume:

  • ‘From the Ashes of the Cipher Manuscript to the Creation of the Golden Dawn’—an original introduction by Darcy Küntz.
  • ‘A supplement to ‘Providence Unknown’: The Origins of the Golden Dawn’ by R.A. Gilbert, created for this volume.
  • The Early Letters written before the foundation of the Golden Dawn plus the complete Fraülein Sprengel letters as originally translated by Albert Essinger.
  • Westcott’s personal diary chronicling the founding of the Order, printed for the first time, together with his ‘Historical Lecture.’
  • The Later Golden Dawn Letters written by initiated members, with a special letter from Paul Foster Case to Israel Regardie.
  • THe Published Histories of the Golden Dawn as well as many modern articles and essays on the Order’s Early History.
  • The Golden Dawn Grades and the Tree of Life‘ is just one of the rare illustrations included in this volume.
  • A comprehensive Cross-index of Golden Dawn Members and Mottoes with a translation of the names of the Initiates.”

 

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