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How Christian is the Golden

Dawn?
August 13, 2016
by Nick Farrell Posted in golden dawn
Trigger

There are a few interesting posts around at the moment about the importance of the
Christian religion within the Golden Dawn and much collective agreement that this
particular religion was vital, particularly of the Second Order. The evidence appears
fairly conclusive with the 5=6 being a Rosicrucian ritual and this equals being a
Christian. There is also the important matter that historically Christian life was vital to
many within the Golden Dawn structure.
However, the devil (in this case literally) is in the detail and the conclusive evidence fails
before one of the central planks of the Golden Dawn philosophy that of syncretism.
The idea of the Golden Dawn was to take different ideas and aspects of magic which on
the surface appear dissimilar and weave them into a new coherent whole. This is why
you see lots of different types of magic within the Golden Dawn system. Sometimes
they are jacked under the bonnet more or less completely, such as cabbalism and other
times they are a bit like a set of Ikea shelves where the person has given up on the
instructions and wacked in the screws with a hammer.

A syncretic approach denies the perfection of a complete system as other systems


might perform that approach much better. Ironically this idea applies to the Golden
Dawn itself. There is a move within the modern Golden Dawn to ignore syncretism and
define something as a pure Golden Dawn system and stick to it religiously. The
implication was that the Golden Dawn was once a pure system in its own right and not
the mongrel which emerged, howling at the moon, from the 19 th century magical
systems. In this mode of thinking, Christianity within the Golden Dawn follows a simple
line of programming code. If the members of the Golden Dawn were Christian and
Rosicruciasm was Christian, then you have to be a Christian to enter the Second Order.
There is a slight problem here. If Golden Dawn members were Christian, to do and
perform these rituals and follow these teachings they could not have been orthodox in
their beliefs. In fact, some modern Golden Dawners claim that the Christianity they
followed was gnostic. However, there is nothing in the individual beliefs of Golden
Dawn people which suggests any such heretical thought. In the case of Whare Ra the
form of Christianity was more mystical Anglicanism and taken very seriously. Some of
the articles written by Whare Ra members would not look out of place in any Church
magazine. The point was that they were being asked to accept something else to work
alongside that religion to help them understand it. In many ways ritual magic was a
more efficient form of prayer. They had adopted a syncretic philosophy and placed
magic within their Christian framework.

Where
order?

is

Christ

in

the

outer

When most people think Golden Dawn they think it refers to the entire system (this is
not helped by people like me calling what we do Golden Dawn magic). But the Golden
Dawn is literally the outer order which makes up the five grades of the 0=0 to 4=7.
These were the only initiations that Mathers and Westcott ever received as a system. If
you look at these rituals the Christian influence is very low key and where it exists it is
framed within a Cabbalistic worldview. Magically we have Ancient Egyptian godforms,
and an inner structure based around Jewish Cabbalah. There might be a couple of
Christian references, but these are mostly literary.

This guy is clearly Christian


Those claiming the GD was Christian downplay the role Egyptian Godforms saying
that these were not the same as using Egyptian Gods. Technically they are correct.
Godforms are astral masks of gods which the magician wears and are not a pure form
of spirit possession (which would be required if you were dumb enough to try using
gods directly). As the rituals say, the priest who wears the mask of [insert god] speaks
and says These GD masks are built from specific magical symbols which are
designed to create a particular energy and a response from the candidate. The Golden
Dawn went out of its way to avoid spirit possession by not even allowing its officers to
take on the godforms themselves, but instead have them projected upon them by the
Hierophant.
But the Egyptian choice of gods, along with the references to the Book of the Dead
cannot be ignored. If the Golden Dawn were a Christian order it would have chosen
Christian gods or angels who should have been able to do this better. Instead we see
the GD using Gods magically without any hint of religious involvement.
The 0=0 explains the Golden Dawns attitude to religion generally. In the 0=0 you are
told that the oath contains nothing contrary to your civil, moral or religious duties in
other words you do not have to follow a specific religious line to be a member. The
same Neophyte ceremony, it is pointed out that you must all religions in reverence
because they all contain a fragment of truth. This is a statement of syncretism if ever
there was one.
What we can see from this is that Christian symbolism is played down in the outer order
and takes a backseat to imagery which would be considered pagan and placed within a
cabbalistic context.

Jesus within the 5=6

In the 5=6 it would appear that Christianity suddenly becomes king. Paganism is left at
the door of the vault in favour of an advanced and totally Christian Rosicrucianism. You
cant really go anywhere without (in my case) literally tripping over Christian symbolism.
There is a picture of dying Christ on the pastos alongside another standing before the
seven lamps of revelation. There are clear statements which imply that the vault of CRC
is that of the tomb of Jesus.
But thinking that is ignoring what has gone before within the GD. The candidate has
through his two and half symbolic years in the outer learned about symbolism and
started thinking syncretically. The logic of the outer order suggests that the second order
is yet another syncretic level of symbols to replace the Egyptian symbols of the outer.
Just like you were not expected to worship the Egyptian Godforms you were not
required to worship these. They are what they are symbolic masks. In fact looking at
some of those symbols we are forced to conclude that the rosicrucianism of the Golden
Dawn was not the conventional Christian flavour.

Non-Christian elements
Lets look at the officers. They all carry Egyptian wands implying that at least one level
they have the same Egyptian energies of the outer order.
The vault roof and floor is pure cabbalistic and does not depict the Christian duality of
heaven and hell but a cabbalistic light and darkness. The candidate is not given the
symbols of a Christian resurrection but those of the resurrection of Osiris. Sure there is
some classically Christian ideas there but they are all part of a greater mix. Again, this
is only possible if Christianity (and Rosicrucianism) is being seen as part of a wider
syncretic current.
This might be one of the reasons why to be a member of the 5=6 you have to be
sympathetic to Christian symbolism. By that you do not want to be the sort of person
4

who bursts into flame when you see a crucifix or be the sort of person who has an
emotional response to the Christianity of your childhood (which is fashionable in
modern neo-pagan communities).
This syncretic Rosicrucianism is different from the real thing in some key ways. Firstly
it is not literal it looks at the allegory of CRC in a purely symbolic way. What is curious
about this approach is that you start to notice how unchristian CRC really was.
When you look at the legend of CRC we see a person who is disappointed with the
conventional Christianity in which he finds himself who goes into Muslim lands (Egypt
and Fez) looking for answers before returning. He tries to get the results accepted by
his Christian peers and when he cant he sets up his order.
The vault symbolism shows that CRC is the embodiment of that order and teaching. In
short he is a symbol of that wider syncretic current. The writers of the manifestos
indicate that the CRC order is a revolutionary force in religion. The implication is that it
is a reformation of Christianity but in Golden Dawn terms it is also a reformation of the
self.

5=6 Spoiler alert


In the 5=6 ritual there is something which is not part of the CRC legend [Spoiler alert]
the candidate is crucified. This obviously uses the symbolism of the Christian death, and
even apparently quotes the bible saying If ye be crucified with Christ, ye shall also
reign with Him. But this is not a biblical quote rather a linking of several different
quotes. The closest is 2Timothy v22 says If you die with Christ you will live with him
and there is Galatians 2v 20 which says I have been crucified with Christ and I no
longer live, but Christ lives in me. I might be splitting hairs here but these are different
concepts. The GD is saying you have to be literally crucified with Christ to rule with
him. The 2 Timothy says that if you die with Christ (ie as a Christian) you will live with
him Galatians is saying that once you are crucified with Christ you no longer live and
nothing about rulership. In otherwords the GD has syncretically created a bible verse to
say something else (I will not spoil it further just think about it).
The other much quoted phrase proving that you have to be a Christian in this part of
the 5=6 is the statement: I, (Frater XYZ), a member of the Body of Christ do this day
spiritually bind myself, even as I am now bound physically upon the Cross of Suffering.
In Christianity the phrase member of the body of Christ implies that you are a
communion taking Christian. It comes from 1 Corinthians 12 26-27 If one part suffers,
every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. Now you are
the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it. This verse talks about the
Church. It is also connected to the Last Supper where Jesus says this is my body
broken for thee which was an important part of the communion ritual which is a
common uniting force within Christianity.
5

Give that little has been that literal in the ritual so far lets look at this statement a bit
closer. Firstly the word Christ is a title not a name. It comes from the Greek and means
chosen one which is a translation of the Jewish Messiah. The Rosicrucians were
supposed to meet on Corpus Christi which was a Roman Catholic day dedicated to the
body of Christ which was the wafer which according to Church doctrine became the
body of Christ during the communion. The word body is used to describe substance
so we are talking about what Christ is made of. To Paul (in Corinthians) that substance
was the Church of which everyone was an individual member, but as Franz Hartman
pointed out the body of Christ was also spirit. What the candidate is declaring is that
they are part of the spirit of the anointed one. The link to Corpus Christi symbolically
suggests that we are talking about being part of this spirit made manifest in matter. So
in other words it is part of God on a mission into matter. The issue here is that you do
not need to be a Christian to be part of the anointed ones spirit, you have to be a
spiritual being existing in matter but one who has acknowledged they are part of a
greater spiritual whole. Personally it would have been less problematic confusing had
the ritual said a member of the body of the Logos. Logos and Christ are
interchangeable and in my view the world Logos (or Word) takes me to a more useful
place.
One of the reasons that we know that the 5=6 is not completely Christian is that CRC is
dead. If he were a pure Christ energy the tomb would be empty or there would be a
form of resurrected Christ within it. In the 5=6 ritual the candidate sees the dead CRC
and is resurrected from their earlier death. In other words, in the syncretic symbol of the
Order (the vault) the candidate is reborn and their magical-self awakens.

Summary
The point I am making is NOT that the GD was not Christian or that it was pagan.
Instead that it saw all religions as an expression of the One Thing. It syncretically used
Godforms, including the more Christian orientated Rosicrucian forms, but these should
not be confused with actual gods or an over all theme. Instead these forms should be
contemplated upon for the information The Golden Dawn system is neither pagan nor
Christian but is a synthesis of all of them. It is a philosophy of bringing together different
parts of magic and working them into a greater whole.