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Various: Occult History

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick.order,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Various: Occult History (OTO/GD)
Date: 20 Dec 1997 16:37:02 -0800

[technical difficulties enforced delay of repost]

Jeffrey Smith :

Fortune was a member of Moina's GD group for a time, but her "contacts" 
with the "Great White Brotherhood"--which is actually a Small Black 
Sisterhood :)--came mostly when she herself already set up as a teacher 
and head of a group.  Dr. Taverner has supposedly been identified as a 
particular person; I don't remember his name, but he seemed to have no 
real connection to any organization then active in England, beyond, I 
suppose, the GWB/SBS. A biography of Fortune would probably have the 
requisite information.

 My own impression is that those Chelsea lodges owed more to Fortune's 
imagination than anything else.  The GD and its offshoots certainly 
had more fights among its own members than anything else (remember 
Mathers shaking a jar of beans with Intent against the rebellious London 
lodge?); Fortune's accounts would make Moina seem more like the Black 
Adept than anyone else.  But the Taverner story called "Powerhouse" is 
apparently Fortune's rather hostile portrait of Crowley (in the person of 
Josephus, just returned from "Tunisia") and his activities in London.
In a way, this is ironic, since Fortune's writing can be as fixated on 
sex as Crowley's, even if she adopts a sort of pre-Raphaelite manner in 
dealing with it.


Tim Maroney :

>From lurking on this list I have gotten the impression that many of you 
>know these magickal relations or "family ties" quite well. I'd be 
>delighted if anyone on this list would care to help me with information 
>about some of the ties I don't yet understand.

Ellic Howe is by far the best source on the Golden Dawn, though the 
Aquarian Press reprint volumes of the 1980's edited by R. A. Gilbert, 
Francis King, and so on are extremely useful. Regardie's "My Rosicrucian 
Adventure" (later "What You Should Know about the Golden Dawn") is also 
invaluable and a good example of reasonable criticism of the social 
process of occult groups. (Regardie hated Howe to the end of his days for 
once printing an unflattering sentence about a Regardie book, though.) 
There's lots of Theosophical history but not much of it is very good, 
except the books by K. Paul Johnson, and original source documents from 
people like Olcott and Sinnett read with a critical eye.

>I have gathered from some recent posts that she was actually a member
>of Moina Mather's GD. Now I am curious about whether that group did 
>indeed belong to such a meta-organization.

My impression is that some of the GD splinters managed to maintain 
somewhat cordial relationships between each other, but they were 
autonomous (except of course for astrally delivered messages from the 
Secret Chiefs....)

If you're wondering about the symbolic breadth of Dion Fortune's work, 
she was involved in not only GD but Theosophy, esoteric Christianity, and 
possibly a late HBL survivor of some type. She was also an admirer of 
Crowley's work though she is believed not to have worked directly with 
him or in his groups. It was possible to make contacts with many of the 
occult groups of the day, espercially with some well-regarded writing 
credentials. However, though the community was somewhat incestuous, they 
didn't all know each other -- Fortune got around more than most. I think 
it is unlikely the current biographers have really covered her very broad 
source base.

>Also I have read about the
>black Chelsea lodges. Is this just fiction or did Moina Mather's GD
>indeed fight magickal wars with other groups.

This is sometimes dismissed as a malicious fabrication of Fortune against 
Mathers after she was expelled from the GD, but I don't know what 
corroborating sources of information may or may not exist. Magical 
battles did happen in GD history but this one seems less well documented 
than some others. My feeling is that given Fortune's fictionalizing 
proclivities her historical accounts should be viewed, not as 
confabulations, but as deliberately told stories with some strong but not 
complete relationship to the facts of the case at hand. So far I have not 
found actual anomalies in her accounts but they do seem to be drawn with 
a rather broad brush.

>thing that incited my curiosity is the identity of Ms Fortunes mentor
>who is called Dr. Taverner in one of her books. Does anyone know 
>anything about this?

He's usually considered to be Brodie-Innes, an interesting and 
intelligent GD character well worth following through on. What I still 
want to know more about in connection with Fortune's fiction is her 
relationship with Maiya Tranchell-Hayes, who became part of the composite 
witch character from her fictions. Most of the available information is 
from Kenneth Grant, a distinctly unreliable source. Any more out there 
known to list readers? It is supposed to be her box of ritual tools that 
fell off the cliffs ("white cliffs of Dover?") some fifteen or twenty 
years ago. What happened to them?


Tim Maroney :


['Patricia', from the kabbalah-l elist at]
># Crowley ...stole information from one of the greatest magician of all 
># times, namely Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers 

>a very peculiar statement.  it is my understanding that Mathers himself
>is more often accused of theft and deception as regards his supposed
>translations and originations (such as _Kabbalah Unveiled_, which was
>apparently a theft from Christian D. Ginsburg's 1863 _The Kabbalah: Its
>Doctrines, Development and Literature_).

The usual accusation is that Liber 777 consists of tables by Mathers 
which Crowley published as his own with some additions and 
amplifications. So far as I know this is true though I haven't seen the 
direct evidence. Mathers never published these tables, though, so it's 
rather similar to the Apple/Xerox situation -- if someone does not bring 
their own valuable work to market they don't have much of an enforcement 
claim and in fact the marketing of the work has public service benefits. 
Much the same is true of Regardie's work or Fortune's. In each case there 
was a deliberate decision to breach Golden Dawn security to help rather 
than hinder humanity.

[some Mathers bits taken to another thread -- tn]

># There are  two major differences between the two system (GD and OTO) right 
># off.  One is that neither the O.T.O or the A. A. are teaching orders, the 
># Golden Dawn is.  The O.T.O and A. A. expect the candidate to learn 
># everything from the initiations primarily and go foraging for written 
># material and instructorship on a "catch as catch can" basis.  

The A.'. A.'. is very distinctly a teaching order of the same type as the 
GD, and with even more strongly drawn instructional chains and 
requirements. The A.'. A.'. is more oriented toward solitary practice 
rather than Lodge work like the GD, though.

Opinions on the proper educational function of O.T.O. differ. Some have 
treated it as a teaching order, more have not.

>in at least the case of the Caliphate OTO ((c)OTO) it is not considered
>a 'teaching order' per se, but a fraternal secret society with initiatic
>membership admission.  members of that organization sometimes offer
>instruction on a variety of materials, inclusive of QBL (various forms).
>the AAs of which I am aware usually require quite a bit of instruction,
>apparently providing this prior to initiation in a manner not unlike the
>Golden Dawn (though without the social milieu).

Pretty much correct to my knowledge. It's important to note that for some 
people the O.T.O. is a teaching order and many O.T.O.-labeled 
publications, especially in the 1980's through Anpu's boilerplate, 
explicitly assert that it is a teaching order.

># Also, the O.T.O does not initiate according to the Tree of Life, its grades
># are called degrees and follow the Masonic system of advancement....

There is qabalistic symbolism in O.T.O. degrees that would be apparent to 
anyone who had studied the GD Tree of Life and had the opportunity to 
reflect at length about the rites. There is also Masonic symbolism, but 
[333] was right to contradict the assertion that the O.T.O. "follows a 
Masonic system." Masonry is a source but more than just the names have 
been changed in the degrees. I would add that the GD is in many ways more 
Masonic than the O.T.O. or the A.'. A.'. in major stylistic features such 
as ritual pacing and sententiousness. Crowley's own style is much more 
fast-paced and direct.

># Like the Masons, many O.T.O. lodges allow the candidate to BUY MOST OF THE 
># DEGREES (BTW Knowledge should be given FOR FREE!) with sometimes little or 
># no actual personal growth. 

There are degree requirements at every level but they are not very 
difficult at the Man of Earth level at least. It is a good thing that 
people have the right to take as many of the MoE degrees as they are 
willing to take -- in practice the numbers shrink rapidly as you go up 
even in these guaranteed degrees, so self-selection does not appear to 
breed large numbers of people who are not genuinely interested. I think 
the barriers should be lowered further -- you can still run into 
administrative incompetence and the malice of certain of the leaders.

As for situations where the enlightened initiates pass judgment on 
whether the inner life of another would suit them for a particular 
degree, that to me is a much more compromised and marginally ethical 
relationship, breeding all manner of abuse and ego-inflation. Moina 
Mathers' expulsion of Dion Fortune because certain symbols did not appear 
in her aura is a good example of the kind of use that petty and vengeful 
people find for the position of judge.

># ...any magic below the Veil of Paroketh on the Tree of Life,
># involving the three lower chakras, was indeed to be considered 'black
># magic', as it involved the powers of Earthly existence, like sex and the
># power to control the basic powers and elements, implying that Low Magic and
># High Magic could be divided along the same line. 

Uh, no. This is apparently Patricia's personal interpretation of GD 
symbolism and I am unable to find a basis for it in my knowledge of that 
system. In particular we know that the lower degrees were not involved 
with sex, and there was no set chakra attribution to the Tree of Life of 
which I am aware -- if there was one, it was not very prominent. The 
upshot of previous examinations of the evidence here has been that what 
sex teaching there was in the GD consisted mostly of side interests from 
other groups such as Berridge's and Ayton's, that Moina and probably 
MacGregor Mathers taught and practiced "control of the passional self" in 
the form of celibacy (just as in Theosophy), and that Westcott had some 
unspecified interests at the high degree level.

># What do you know about the Secret Chiefs?  

"Secret Chiefs" are a common occult delusion or myth. At times, 
unscrupulous people don the role of Secret Chiefs or their emissaries and 
are able to manipulate others by their claims of authority. At other 
times astral or real-world teachers are fictionalized into such 

The only Secret Chief that really counts is the one that you already are.



o pas te kai pasa and Tim,


I wrote,
>>To judge from one of the curricula (Magick, Dover edition, p. 210, there
>>called "The Oracles of Zoroaster"), the Chaldaean Oracles to some degree
>>influenced AC.

and Tim wrote,
>Yes, they were a hot topic in both Theosophy and the Golden Dawn. I doubt
>he had any more familiarity with them than simply going through the GD
>rituals and reading Westcott's edition, and possibly Mead's, though. Note
>that he always uses Westcott's title: "The Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster".

It seems to me that you must be right, for I do not know of his mentioning
any other works related with the Oracles beyond the work he lists in the
bibliography in question.

On the other hand, from the point of view of the historian, the Oracles
seem to have had a relatively enduring impact with him, that is, to judge
from his paraphrase of an element of the Oracles in Tannhauser, an early
work, from the verbatim quotation of a passage from the Oracles in a note
to Liber Samekh, written in Sicily, and from the listing itself, from part
III of Book IV, published afterwards.

The extent of the direct impact of the work, however, is another question;
one could apply form-criticism to, for example, some of the more
symbol-laden works of AC and to the Oracles themselves in order to see
whether there are similarities in Sitz im Leben, concepts/like-words, and
structure; if there were (and I personally would not posit such or deny it
without first having formally compared them) then one would have firm
ground to argue for degree of influence of the Oracles in particular, which
degree could be seen as an issue at least slightly intriguing.

Beyond this particular work and its impact upon one individual, there is in
fact the broader matter of the origins of Western magical practice, into
which the individual in question was initiated.  Tim rightly points out the
significance of the Neoplatonic revival, a principal exponent of which
being Agrippa, to whom may be owed some of the 777 correspondences, as
transmitted beforehand through the GD to the compiler and augmenter.  One
could look beyond Agrippa for the origin of certain practices associated
with ceremonial magic, such as the use of a medium or seer, attested in
Confessions for example, especially unless I am mistaken in the account of
a visit to Hong Kong; the use of the same is in fact also attested both in
the Oracles and, it would seem, in De mysteriis.  (For more on ceremonial
seers in theurgy, see pp. 296-297 of Appendix II of E. R. Dodds, The Greeks
and the Irrational.  Berkeley:  Univ of CA, 1951, still in print; see also
for example p. 39 of and elsewhere in the Lewy work mentioned in an earlier
post.)  Also the notion of a personal daimon is attested at least in
Iamblichus, and, as one would wager, elsewhere in theurgical works, if only
perhaps under the dress of some other word, such as aggelos.  One could go
on: divination, astrology, the preparation of divine images (for the latter
in modern magick, Liber O III 1 and Astarte 4).

A further question for the historian would be to see whether there is a
person-to-person break between first these ancient practices and ideas
descriptive of realities and second the modern practices and ideas.  Were
they in fact simply revived, say, by individuals such as Agrippa in
accordance only with what they had read in half-forgotten texts, or was
there a continuous and direct person-to-person transmission of practices
and ideas?  To me it seems a rather large question.

And an important one.  Initiation--I mean a formal introduction into a
temple and the beholding of sacra, all of which being officered by persons
other than the initiand, in order to transfer the initiand from the profane
to the sacred and in order to establish permanent contact between him or
her and the latter (see note below)--can also convey legitimacy through
change of social station in addition to its other benefits, and in some
organizations, such as in Blue Lodge Freemasonry, allows one to become an
officer in one's own turn; and so, with this in mind, does a break in
person-to-person initiation imply a break in authority to initiate?

And if such a break occurs, then from where comes new authority?

If there is a break in person-to-person initiation, then is it not
necessarily so that the new initiations be conducted under an authority
different from that with which there has been a break?

But these are questions for theologians, not historians.

And with that said, Summer vacation is over, Autumn Quarter has just begun,
and so I will be reading you, but not writing, at least for a time.

93 93/93


For initiation as here defined:
-Walter Burkert.  Ancient Mystery Cults.  Cambridge:  Harvard University,
1987, esp. pp. 9-11.
-and the translation of Arnold van Gennep.  The Rites of Passage.  Chicago:
The University of Chicago, 1960, esp. p. 89.

Incidentally, today I, who know nearly nothing of the important
Neoplatonist Porphyry, find that he does indeed use the term "Hecate."
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