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ROSICRUCIANISM AND THE ROSICRUCIAN CONTROVERSY

Subject: ROSICRUCIANISM AND THE ROSICRUCIAN CONTROVERSY
                                      
   By T Allen Greenfield,  1997.
   
   Rosicrucianism is a concept that defies sharp or clear definition. Its
   origins may be similar to that of Freemasonry and the Hermetic
   Brotherhood of Luxor, but like these venerable institutions, its true
   origins are lost in the thick mists of occult history. All that we can
   say for certain is that certain intriguing "Rosicrucian documents"
   begin appearing in the early 1600s, but claiming to describe earlier
   events. The Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis appeared in 1614. The
   Confession appeared in the following year."The Chymical Wedding" -
   known also as "The Hermetick Romance" appear in 1616, and is generally
   considered the work of a young pastor named Johann Valentin
   Andreae(1586-1654). Like other Rosicrucian works, controversy
   surrounds even this claim. By 1622, as recorded in THE MORNING OF THE
   MAGICIANS, and in numerous other places, ". . . the inhabitants of
   Paris woke to find the walls of their city covered with posters
   bearing the following message :`We, deputies of the principal College
   of the Brethren of the Rose Cross (Rosicrucians) are amongst you in
   this town, visibly and invisibly, through the grace of the Most High
   to whom the hearts of all just men are turned, in order to save our
   fellow-men from the error of death'."
   
   The substance of the Rosicrucian claim, or mythos is that there is a
   "Hidden Church" which is a repository of great secrets learned in the
   East, and transmitted by various luminaries, sages and adepts down to
   our own time.
   
   By the 1700s, most Masonic bodies contained, at their higher levels,
   "Rosicrucian Degrees" -- while various occult fraternities were
   associated with, or gave out that they were associated with, some form
   of Rosicrucianism. In 1866 Robert Wentworth Little and other ranking
   Freemasons in England formed the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia. With
   Little as Supreme Magus, and such men as W.R. Woodman, F.G. Irwin and
   John Yarker among its founders, the S.R.I.A. seems to have carried on
   the work of Continental Rosicrucian groups, and was heavily influenced
   by Robert Henderson "Kenneth" Mackenzie (1833-1886),an English adept
   and colorful historian who worked closely with Little, according to
   his successor and Golden Dawn Co-founder W. Wynn Wescott. Indeed, as
   A.E. Waite later suggested, Kenneth Mackenzie "may have produced the
   G:.D:. Ciphers, in part from his recollection of German Grade
   experiences and in part from his inventive resources."
   
   Mackenzie had been raised in Austria and stated "I possess the real
   degrees but I may not by my tenure give them to any one in the world
   without a long and severe probation."
   
   The S.R.I.A. unquestionably gave rise to the Hermetic Order of the
   Golden Dawn, and spawned an American counterpart, the Societas
   Rosicruciana in America, which continues (since 1964) through the good
   offices of the Qabalistic Alchemist Arcanum.
   
   The "Golden Dawn" is another matter.
   
                      A GOLDEN DAWN KNOWLEDGE LECTURE
                                      
   ". . . members who desired to carry on the magical tradition and the
   original Order scheme formed the Amoun Temple, changing the name of
   the Outer Order from Golden Dawn to Stella Matutina."
   
   Francis King, MODERN RITUAL MAGIC, pp 94-96 "Splinters"
   
   " . . . Thus began the downfall of organised magical instruction
   through semi-esoteric channels of the Hermetic Order of the Golden
   Dawn. Whatever else should be insisted upon in Magic, unity is the
   prime essential. A united body of manifestation at all costs should
   have been maintained . . ."
   
   Israel Regardie, MY ROSICRUCIAN ADVENTURE
   
   The LEGAL continuity of magical organizations is, of course, of
   interest mainly in terms of copyrights, the ownership of property,
   etc. The Ordo Templi Orientis fought long and hard and justly for such
   recognition years ago, in a case that touched as high as the United
   States Supreme Court. Such matters do not directly reflect on the
   question of authentic magical tradition, much less potency, but they
   certainly DO give a clue as to whether a given group or individual is
   in possession of the real thing, or is a `book masonic' body (common
   now with the Golden Dawn material so widely circulated) or outright
   fraud - or worse. Add to this the criterion that the hermetic wisdom
   was handed on at the highest level by the highest authority or those
   directly authorized by that authority, and you have eliminated the
   credibility of most modern magical fraternities.
   
   There have been, since the illustrious if checkered days when the
   original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn collapsed in 1903 e.v. (
   significantly the year before the advent of the present aeon) many
   claimants to the Golden Dawn mantle. In the 1930s Regardie noted that
   "The separate Temples decided to fall independently of how or why or
   where the other groups fell. Each was smug, complacent and fully
   confident that it alone continued the magical tradition. . .so are
   there now several decaying Temples claiming unbroken descent from the
   original Isis-Urania. Each insists fervently that it alone is the
   genuine Order."
   
                               CAME THE DAWN
                                      
   It was predictable upon publication of the massive revised COMPLETE
   GOLDEN DAWN SYSTEM OF MAGIC by Regardie , that after a few years, new
   claims to the G.D. mantle - or franchise - would emerge. Regardie,
   Falcon Press and the original Golden Dawn Society can hardly be blamed
   for this; to the contrary, their intent, as I understand it, was to
   preserve and expand upon the G.D. system, saving it from extinction,
   not to capitalize upon it and make idle claims. Regardie, after all,
   was never more than a lower middle echelon G.D. initiate, privy only
   in a scholarly sense to the higher teachings. He certainly never had a
   charter to initiate, and was, in fact, initiated himself only into a
   late splinter group. He never claimed otherwise.
   
   The traditional unofficial Thelemic `rebuttal' to Golden Dawn
   pretenders has been built around the concept of the New Aeon. The
   original Golden Dawn, this theory goes, was the last flowering of old
   aeon magick, and its potency will wane as the New Aeon progresses. The
   A.A., as developed by Crowley, is the authentic successor body to the
   G.D. For Thelemites Crowley is definitive in Liber LXI Vel Causae:
   
   In 1900 one P. (Crowley), a brother, instituted a rigorous test of
   S.R.M.D.(Mathers) on the one side and the Order on the other.
   
   He discovered that S.R.M.D., though a scholar of some ability and a
   magician of remarkable powers, had never attained complete initiation:
   and further had fallen from his original place, he having imprudently
   attracted to himself forces of evil too great and terrible to
   withstand.
   
   The claim of the Order that the true adepts were in charge was
   definitely disproven.
   
   In the Order, with two certain exceptions and two doubtful ones, he
   found no persons prepared for initiation of any sort.
   
   He thereupon by his subtle wisdom destroyed both the Order and its
   chief . . .
   
   For Thelemites, this should pretty much settle the matter. Crowley was
   an eyewitness and - at the least - the key magician of his time. Sent
   by Mathers to correct the disarray in London, Crowley found himself
   involved in what amounted to a street brawl with G.D. brethren who
   should have known better; the core of the group had included W.B.
   Yeats, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen and other great literary - as
   well as magical - figures of the late Victorian Era. But, in this, the
   "united body of manifestation" fell into a mob of street fighters with
   no honor, and whatever merit or fraternity had existed before
   evaporated. Mathers eventually fell into inebriated uselessness. The
   Golden Dawn was dead.
   
   This argument will not wash, of course, with those who are not New
   Aeon oriented. What bothers me most about the newest crop of groups
   pretending to the charters of the original Golden Dawn isn't so much
   this archaic quality (my own experiments indicate that, for the
   present, some potency still remains available to G.D. type magic), but
   a cultic quality that has appeared among SOME of the newer groups.
   True cultic characteristics include: (1) Unsupportable claims by the
   leadership - usually a single charismatic individual - of lineal
   succession and special powers; (2) A secretive recruitment campaign,
   and (C) the discouraging of members from any meaningful exchange of
   ideas with outside groups and individuals. This is the so called
   `Moonie Syndrome' and has been used by groups as diverse as the
   International Society for Krishna Consciousness and the People's
   Temple of the late Jim Jones.
   
   I would urge anyone who has become involved with any such group to
   test it against these standards. If one is being discouraged from
   asking questions that are specific, if major credentials are being
   claimed without meaningful proof, if the leader or leaders discourages
   contact with others with other perspectives, treat this with extreme
   caution. However nice this may seem, you are in trouble. Get help
   fast. And get out NOW!
   
   There are a few bodies existing today that can legitimately be
   considered `directly descended' from the original Golden Dawn. But, to
   the best of my knowledge, ALL of these are splinters or splinters of
   splinters of the original. Each splinter group had a special axe to
   grind and is, to that extent, not representative of the thrust of the
   original. Even most splinters of the original have undergone
   disruptions and distortions. Dr. Regardie had much respect for the New
   Zealand group founded by one of the original splinterers, Dr. Felkin,
   in 1912 e.v., but this, too, closed in 1978 e.v. and has `survived'
   only by reconstitution or reconstruction.
   
   EACH SUCH DISCONTINUITY ENDANGERS THE INTEGRITY OF THE ORIGINAL
   TEACHING. Some current groups seem to claim a lot more. Such claims
   should be questioned.
   
   My respect for Israel Regardie as historian is great. This was the
   Regardie I knew personally, and read avidly. Another `Israel Regardie'
   has grown up since his death; even some of his obituaries
   characterized him as `the last great Magus' and similar rubish.
   Regardie himself explicitly discounted such ideas to the last. "I am
   not in that area. Nonetheless, I consider myself more in the nature of
   somebody who has taken seriously the work of H.P.B., Crowley and a few
   others . . ." as he described himself at the very end of his life.
   
   As Laura Jennings-Yorke has noted, "We must remember that when
   Regardie published the GD in 1940, he had left the Hermes Temple at
   the level of Zelator Adeptus Minor (Z.A.M.)."
   
   The only higher grades issued him were under authority of an initiate
   of a reconstruction of Dr. Felkin's splinter of the original Order.
   This person, to his credit, openly admits that he has had to
   reconstruct original Golden Dawn materials, sometimes from notes taken
   many years after the fact.
   
   Let us remember Dr. Regardie as the great historian of magick that he
   was. As a middle echelon initiate of a defunct splinter group, he
   could hardly be the source of deep, initiated knowledge.
   
                              THIS IS THE END
                                      
   The true story of the end of the original Golden Dawn has been told
   enough times from various standpoints that, if nothing else, one
   obvious truth should clearly emerge: None of the senior players still
   living in 1900 e.v. come off very well. Mathers, as Crowley put it in
   his autobiography, was at this point the only possible legitimate
   claimant to being its chief. As George Cecil Jones put it, in
   Crowley's characterization, ". . . if Mathers were not the head of the
   Order and the trusted representative of the Secret Chiefs, there was
   no Order at all." All of the fragmentary descendent bodies that have
   arisen subsequently are either the idiosyncratic creation of the
   pretentious usurpers of the time, or are recreations out of the
   published works of Crowley and Regardie, or something of both.
   
   This tends, at times, to get ugly. I knew Israel Regardie slightly,
   and had boundless respect for him as a major source of magical
   history. I believe that, just as happened to his mentor Crowley, in
   his last years Regardie drew a sinister coterie of psychic vultures or
   vampires, who have, since his death, used the Golden Dawn literature
   and their Regardie "connection" for exploitative material gain and
   unsavory cultic schemes. I have no quarrel with those who might want
   to work the Golden Dawn rituals, but those who have traded fast and
   loose with the name and purported endorsements of a kindly and perhaps
   too trusting old man after his death, let alone with the reputation of
   an illustrious but long dead magical body of manifestation, deserve
   the contempt of all who would understand the great secrets. In a more
   gallant age, such trash would be tarred, feathered, and ridden out of
   town on a rail, preferably by the very people they have duped into a
   following.
   
   "They issued various hysterical manifestos, distinguished by confusion
   of thought, inaccuracy of statement, personal malice, empty bombast
   and ignorance of English." Crowley said of the usurpers.
   
   The rest of Mathers' story is equally sad. Regardie called it "the
   downfall of organized magical instruction through the semi-esoteric
   channels of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn."
   
   Having worked with some of the G.D. material for a very long time, It
   falls for me in the same revered category as any other venerable
   historical source. But the Golden Dawn? The Hermetic Order of the
   Golden Dawn? Surely, its charters and warrants passed legitimately
   from Mathers to Crowley and the A.A. The original `Hidden Church' out
   of which it emerged is still the repository of the inner secrets. When
   Mathers was cast off by the Secret Chiefs, any chance for a new
   manifestation under the name "Golden Dawn" became, ipso facto, remote;
   therefore any claims should be viewed as highly suspect. Modern
   magicians should learn from the Complete Golden Dawn System and
   Crowley's earlier renditions, just as one might profit much from a
   reading of Duncan's Ritual of FreeMasonry. Beware, though of any who
   might claim to be a nineteenth century York Rite Mason, because he has
   memorized Duncan. Even Duncan would have told you that such a person
   could not even pass into a York Rite Lodge.
   
   There is one more refuge taken by some; that Israel Regardie change
   his mind about the Golden Dawn at the end of his life. Within a few
   months before his death he told Christopher Hyatt, "The Order went
   down to oblivion. The Order was torn asunder by strife, warfare, by
   internecine conflicts, by rebellions. A great deal of that might, and
   I use the word advisedly, might have been obviated by most of the
   members taking psychotherapy . . ."
   
   Anyone who tells you that they want to revive the Golden Dawn work
   certainly deserves to be heard out as to what they are all about.
   Anyone who claims th BE the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
   is probably fooling you, or themselves, or both.

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