Andrew Finley reviews Sent From the Second Order: The Collected Letters of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn [Abebooks] ed. Darcy Küntz at Sent from the Second Order in the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition archive.
Mr. Darcy Küntz, with his eye for detail and his keen interest in the historical roots of the Golden Dawn, has allowed the public access for the first time to a number of letters from the “vaults of the Golden Dawn” which have only been available to a small number of scholars.
In this book I discovered a number of unpublished letters that revealed the hidden and unexplored idiosyncratic side of the founders and members of the Golden Dawn. These letters have provided me an insight into some of the unexplained behavior and interactions between the members William Wynn Westcott, S.L. Mathers, Dr. Berridge, Aleister Crowley, Annie Horniman, et al.
Of the new material in the book there is a document from 1900 which discusses a “preliminary contract of peace” between Dr. Westcott and S.L. Mathers. Mr. Küntz also produces evidence which reveals the name of the member who wanted revenge upon Westcott and who wanted him kicked out of the Golden Dawn. There are two letters written by Aleister Crowley in 1908 which brought me much pleasure in reading. These letters show Crowley’s wit and charm prior to publishing the Golden Dawn Secrets in The Equinox (Vol. I, Nos. 2 & 3). Of particular interest is the letter dated February 1901 and written by the Majority of the Second Order Council. It could be argued that this document shows that Crowley was initiated in the 5○=6□ grade of Adeptus Minor and a member of the Second Order, while some people might argue that the evidence is only circumstantial.
The quality and nature of the 103 letters and documents in this book has made it a valuable addition to my Golden Dawn library. The high standard of scholarship from Mr. Küntz has made this a highly sought after book. I was surprised to hear that Sent From the Second Order was published in a very limited edition of 27 copies and 10 “Hors Commerce” copies and that it would not be reprinted. Although it makes it very collectable the problem is that researchers may have trouble tracking down a copy. I only hope that Mr. Küntz will consider reprinting a larger or “popular” edition.
The paper and binding of the book are high quality for a small press production. Mr. Küntz has created the design for the cover which is an interesting example of a symbol reminiscent of the chaosphere sigil superimposed on a grid of occult symbols. Also the frontispiece is an unpublished colored version of Aleister Crowley’s Tarot card the Magician.
I would like to see an expanded version with more original letters with the same attention to detail that Mr. Küntz has applied to editing this valuable source material. I also look forward to his book titled The Golden Dawn Temple Manual. I have been told by Mr. Küntz that the book contains all the source material that one would need to start and manage a Golden Dawn Temple including the Consecration Ceremony of a Golden Dawn Temple.