V - What Had Gone Before

A Detailed History of the Golden Dawn

Previously, we discussed the background of Western Hermeticism.  This Bluesheet focuses on the History of the Golden Dawn itself - its roots in the early 19th century, and the years from 1888 - 1900.   This is presented first as a chronology, then as a series of short articles on the major issues and scandals of the Organization.  Where there is some uncertainty, please remember that sources sometimes conflict - I have generally used the best source for a given event, even if it conflicted with a similar citation.

For details on the S.R.I.A. or Theosophical Society, please refer to Bluesheet III, "Occult Influences on the Golden Dawn - The History of Western Hermetic Thought" 

Mottoes: where individuals had two mottoes, I have used the most common.  In most cases his is the "later" motto, or the Second Order motto (most G.D. members did not take new mottoes on becoming members of the Second Order).  In the case of the Chiefs, I have used their "lower" motto in preference to their "higher" i.e. for Mathers I have used "`S Rioghail Mo Dhream - S.R.M.D." in preference to "Deo Duce Comite Ferro - D.D.C.F." 

I - Before the G.D. 

1801 – Francis Barrett advertises for students in London in the pages of his textbook on Ceremonial Magic, The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer.  Historically he operates a school which may have been related to the one operated by Johannes Falk around the same time 

1810 - Johann F. Falk is supposed to have succeeded to the directorate of a secret Society of Students of the Kabbalah – this is loosely identified with the School established by Francis Barrett around 1816.  Frederick Hockley, who was a member of the S.R.I.A., was taught by a pupil of Francis Barrett 

1824 – Frederick Hockley experiments with crystal gazing, begins career in esotericism 

1828 - Francis George Irwin born 

1840 Chuch of the Carmel - an esoteric Rosicrucian Order, founded in France 

1842 - Lord Bulwer-Lytton publishes Zanoni 

1850 - Lord Bulwer Lytton is supposed to have been admitted to a Lodge at Frankfurt-an-Main 

1854 - Eliphas Levi visits London (1854 and 1861) 

1861 - Eliphas Levi visits London (1854 and 1861) 

1861 - Kenneth MacKenzie visited Eliphas Levi in Paris 

1864 - Frederick Hockley joins British Masonic Lodge No. 8 

1865-66 - Robet Wentworth Little found some old Rosicrucian Papers and founded the S.R.I.A.  - Westcott implies he collaborated with Kenneth R. H. MacKenzie. John Hervey, the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England (the standard "non-esoteric" or Orthodox Masonic Temple in the U.K.) was Kenneth MacKenzie’s uncle 

1867 - S.R.I.A. – Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia – founded by  Robert Wentworth Little (1840-78).  Westcott later claimed that Kenneth MacKenzie provided Little with a permission from Count Apponyi in Austria, from whom MacKenzie is supposed to have received “Rosicrucian Initiation” 

1870 - Kenneth MacKenzie joins a conventional English Masonic Lodge, Oak Lodge, No. 190 

1872 - Kenneth MacKenzie is made an Honorary member of S.R.I.A. 

1872 - Royal Oriental Order of Sikha (Apex) and the Sat B’hai, supposedly imported from India.  The order admits women.  It is controlled by Jonathan Yarker, who was known for spawning “bogus” – or at least very irregular -  Masonic Orders. 

1873, 24 April - Eliphas Levi is made an honorary member of S.R.I.A. 

1874 - Kenneth MacKenzie is made Assistant Secretary of the S.R.I.A 

1875 - Frederick Holland is elected to the Metropolitan College of the S.R.I.A. and Kenneth MacKenzie resigns from the S.R.I.A. 

1875 - Madame Helena P. Blatavsky and Colonel H. S. Olcott form Theosophical Society in New York 

1877 - Blatavsky publishes Isis Unveiled 

1878 - Robert Wentworth Little dies.  Dr. W. R. Woodman succeeds him as Supreme Magus of the S.R.I.A. 

1880 - Dr. William Wynn Westcott joins the S.R.I.A. 

1881 - The Occult World published by A.P. Sinnett is popular in England, and introduces the concept of  Theosophy which is already popular in America. 

1883 - An elite esoteric masonic organization called The Society of Eight, is founded by Kenneth MacKenzie.  Notables such as Francis George Irwin and Frederick Holland were members.  It is unclear whether Hockley was a member.  In a note to F.G. Irwin, MacKenzie says that Stainton Moses (a noted Spiritist) and William Wynn Westcott were not to be admitted.  It is unclear whether Westcott was eventually invited to join, or even whether the organization ever really came into existence. 

1883 - Anna Kingsford President of London Lodge of the Theosophical Society - at this time a very small and insignificant organization. 

1884 - the Theosophical Society is embarrassed by alleged trickery uncovered at Adyar during investigation by Richard Hodgson of the Society for Psychical Research 

1884 - Anna Kingsford resigns, forms Hermetic Society.  Westcott and Mathers both lecture there. 

1884 - A Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees is formed in England, which to coordinate, to some extent, the various "side degrees" of Masonry including the S.R.I.A.  Submission was voluntary and virtually none of these organizations actually applied to the Grand Council.  The Grand Council did not extend its authority to firmly embrace these "side degrees" until 1902, by which time there was little interest in them. 

1884 -  The Rosicrucian/Christian Martinist Order in France, which has existed irregularly since the turn of the century is given a constitution and formally organized along modern lines. 

1885 10 November - Frederick Hockley dies 

1886,  3 July -  Kenneth MacKenzie dies.  Swedenborgian Rite - Westcott active became Grand Secretary after Kenneth MacKenzie’s death in 1886.  Collected his loose papers, probably including the cipher manuscripts. 

1887, 23 December - A.F.A.Woodford dies 

1888 - Stanislas de Guita forms Rose+Cross in France 

1888 - February 2, Anna Kingsford dies from chronic lung disease 

II - Foundation 


1 March - G.D.  Isis-Urania Temple No. 3 (see "the cipher manuscript" for discussion of Temples No. 1 and 2) issued a warrant.  First initiate was Mina Bergson (Vestigia nulla retrorsum - “Vestigia”) .  She was later Moina Mathers. 

12 February - Dr. William Wynn Westcott (Sapere Aude - S.A. - originally Non Omnis Moriar), Dr. William Robert Woodman (Magna es Veritas - M.V.), and Samuel Liddell Mathers (‘S Rioghail Mo Dhream - S.R.M.D.) signed the Order of G.D. pledge. 

October - Helena P. Blavatsky launches the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society.  Membership in other Hermetic organizations is forbidden. Rev. William Alexander Ayton (Virtue orta, occidunt rarius - V.O.O.R.) initially writes to some of his Yorkshire colleagues, and they launch a protest over Blavatsky’s refusal to allow membership in other organizations.  The requirement is dropped, though approval must be had from Annie Besant. 

October - Isabelle de Steiger (Alta Pero - A.P.) enters the G.D. 

8 October - G.D. Temple No. 4 Osiris at Weston Super-Mare founded by Benjamin Cox (Crux dat salutem - C.D.S.), a freemason, and associate of Westcott’s from the days when he was a pharmacist.  The Osiris temple never had more than 12 members, went into decline within two years, and ceased to exist in 1895 after Benjamin Cox died. 

11 October - Westcott (S.A.) makes a reference to the G.D. at a meeting of the Metropolitan College of the S.R.I.A. in which he refers to Woodford as a member. 

19 October -  G.D. Temple No. 5, Horus, at Bradford, chartered by T.H. Pattinson ( Vota vita mea - V.V.M.) a watchmaker at Baildon in Yorkshire. 


February - 60 members joined Temple No. 3, Isis-Urania before this date.  Isis-Urania met at Mark Masons’ Hall 

9 February - First public reference to the G.D. appeared in Notes and Queries, in the Theosophical Society Periodical Lucifer.  The reference was in response to a letter asking about a "School of Kabbalah" - It can be assumed that the letter was written by Westcott (S.A.), probably in response to a query he placed himself. 

May - Dr. Edward Berridge (Resurgam) joins the G.D. 

10 September - Moina Mathers (Vestigia) listed as 5=6, a full year before any regular Second Order initiations will be performed. 


In France, the Martinist Order organizes a Supreme Council of 12 members with Papus (Gerard Encausse) as President and Grand Master. Stanislas de Guaïta and Joseph Peledan are also Council members. 

January - Annie Horniman (Fortiter et Rectitude - F.E.R.) joins the G.D. 

7 March - William Butler Yeats (Daemon Est Deus Inversus - Demon)  joins G.D. 

July - Florence Emery (later Florence Farr, after she divorced Edward Emery) (Sapientia Sapienti Dono Data - S.S.D.D.) joins G.D. 

August - J.W. Brodie-Innes (Sub Spe) joins the G.D. in London. 

September - Percy Bullock (Levavi Oculos - L.O.) joins G.D. 

III - The Second Order 


January - Arthur Edward Waite “Sacrementum Regis - S.R.” joins the G.D. 

20 February - Dr. Berridge (Resurgam) 5=6 

March - Mrs. Helen Rand (Vigilate) joins the G.D. 

30 July - Mathers (S.R.M.D.) visits Paris in the summer.  In a letter he states “I have been in much communication with Frater Lux E Tenebris (L.E.T.).”  At the time this was widely rumored to be a Dr. Thiesen of Lieges Belgium.  Mathers circulated other talk about contact with higher adepts, and presented the G.D. with a new set of rituals for a “Second Order,” specifically called the Order of the Rosae Rubiae et Aurae Crucis (R.R. et A.C.). 

2 August - Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) 5=6 

17 December - first Second Order Initiation for Annie Horniman (Fortiter et Recte - F.E.R).  Horniman was going abroad, so her initiation was rushed.  At this time, a distinction had to be made between those of  “Nominal 5=6” grade who had completed the examinations and those who have formally entered the Second Order.   The Second order vault was built at Thavies Inn, off Holborn Circus in rooms owned by the Sanitary Wood Wool Company, in which Westcott (S.A.) had an interest. 

In introducing the Second Order, which he controlled, Mathers (S.R.M.D) effectively took over the organization from Westcott (S.A.) at this point.  Mathers was sole Chief within the Second Order.  Westcott was simply Chief Adept in Anglia. During 1892 there were seven Adept Assemblies and one Adept Council 

During 1892, Miss Theresa Jane O’Connell (Cial agus neart - C.A.N.) was expelled.  She had fallen out with Mina Mathers (Vestigia) 

18 March - Westcott (S.A.) was unable to get a second room on the premises at Thavies Inn - the vault was too small, and in August the Second order moved to Clipstone Street. 

22 March - Miss Pamela Carden (later Mrs. Pamela Bullock) (Shemebar) joins the G.D. 

June -  First Corpus Christi Ceremony.  The most important Adept Assembly was the annual one held early in June, as near as possible to Corpus Christi.  Consecration Ceremony of the Vault of the Adepts - Corpus Christi ceremony - was to be used for any new Vault and for each day of Corpus Christi. “The Chief Adept, clothed in a black robe of mourning and with the “chain of humility” hung round his neck, was bound to the Cross of Suffering and pledged himself ‘for the due performance and fulfillment of the respective clauses of the Oath taken by each member on the Cross of Suffering at his admission to the Grade of Adeptus Minor.’”  Howe says that Mathers (S.R.M.D.) found he consequences of taking it so unpleasant that he tried to foist it on to Westcott (S.A.), who did it for one year and said he would never do it again.  Peck did it at Edinburgh. 

12 July - Helen Rand (Vigilate)  5=6 

August - Factionalism at Horus in Bradford, between Rosicrucians and Theosophists. Annie Horniman (F.E.R.) was sent as an “envoy” to check out the situation.  According to Horniman, Oliver Firth (Volo) and F.D. Harrison (Quanti est Sapere - Q.E.S.), both Theosophists, were making trouble, by acting disrespectfully about and during the rituals. 

10 August - Decision made to move the Second Order Vault to Clipstone Street. 24-25 Clipstone St. was a dingy little thoroughfare running east from the middle of Great Portland St. “dirty, noisy, smelly and immoral, and many objected to it.”  10s. weekly for two rooms.  According to historian Ellic Howe, the Second Order’s neighbors were “a hairdresser, dairyman, confectioner, two sculptors, cabinet-makers, french polishers a piano tuner, and the offices of the German Waiters’ Society.”  The vault was illuminated by a battery powered electric lamp.   There was a log in the Second Order Vault, in which anyone coming or going wrote down the date, time, and their business 

14 August (Sunday) - Percy Bullock (Levavi Oculos - L.O.) was busy organizing the move from Thavies Inn during the week of the 14th-21st. 

6 September - Mathers (S.R.M.D.) and Moina (Vestigia) were back in London on 6 September, remained until 20 October.  This was at least partially for the Equinox Ceremony 

 20 September - W.A. Ayton (V.O.O.R.) was inducted into the Second Order.  His wife, a nominal 5=6 was allowed to observe.  This is the only known instance of a nominal 5=6 being allowed to observe. 

October  - Westcott (S.A.) visited two months later, and temporarily took control as Imperator of the Horus Temple, after the Imperator temporarily resigned, to allow him to fix the problems there. 

November - Dr. Henry Pullen Burry (Anima Pura Sit - A.P.S.) joins the G.D. 

14 December - Apparently, the ladies of the Second Order were using the Vault (or rather the Clipstone street rooms) as a social place in the afternoon.  Westcott (S.A.) promgulated a rule which apparently limited “lady students” access, and Florence Farr (Sapentia Sapienti dono data - S.S.D.D.) complained about it. Apparently the new rule was ignored. 


In this year, the Portal grade first used - this was a "transition" ritual between nominal 5=6 and the Second Order Initiation.  Everyone who became a full 5=6 in 1893 went through the portal grade first, but there was not yet a rule that 9 months must pass, and the portal grade was usually followed by the 5=6 within a week or so. 

During 1893 There were eight Adept Assemblies and four Adept Council meetings 

January - Yeats (Demon) takes 5=6 

February - Mrs. J.W. Brodie-Innes (Sub Hoc Signo Vinces - S.H.S.V.) joins the G.D. 

March - Mathers (S.R.M.D.) makes a trip to try and fix problems with Horus Temple in Bradford.  The Bradfordians were still talking to Oliver Firth (Volo), and F.D. Harrison (Q.E.S.)  Harrison later rose to a significant position within Annie Besant’s Universal Co-Masonry, after the collapse of the Theosophy Society. 

6 April - J.W. Brodie-Innes (Sub spe) 5=6 

20 June - Pamela Carden (later Pamela Bullock) (Shemebar) 5=6 

26 July - F. G. Irwin, of the S.R.I.A. dies. 

26 September, (Tuesday) -  This was the last 5=6 admission until March 1894.  At this point there were 36 full 5=6 members of the Second Order. 

19 October - the Ananda Lodge of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society was formed.  Westcott (S.A.) was President,  Percy Bullock (L.O.) the honorary secretary and F.L. Gardner - not yet a Golden Dawn member, was also an officer.  Gardner may have met Westcott at this time. 

Autumn - By this time the 5=6 Adeptus Minor grade in the Second Order was divided into two sub-grades Zelator Adeptus Minor (Z.A.M) and Theoricus Adeptus Minor (Th.A.M.)  There was discussion and some work on a 5=6 Practicus Adeptus Minor, but this was probably never worked before the Examination system beginning to founder in 1897.   G.D. Second Order members begin to take various parts of the series of eight examinations for the senior 5=6 Grade of Th.A.M in autumn of 1893.  There were no regular grades beyond 5=6, though Mathers (S.R.M.D.) and Moina (Vestigia) as well as Westcott were represented to be 7=4 at various times. 


Annie Horniman secretly provided money that enabled Florence Farr to lease the Avenue Theatre, where she staged Yeats’ one act play The Land of Heart’s Desire as a curtain raiser for Dr. John Todhunter’s The Comedy of Sighs.  The latter was soon withdrawn and was replaced by G.B. Shaw’s Arms and the Man. 

By 1894, a G.D. rule enforced a delay in allowing Theosophical Society Esoteric Section members to join the G.D., because Annie Besant would approve them, then the "Master" (a nonhuman entity) of the Esoteric Section would tell them to resign.  This appears to have been a politically correct way for the Esoteric Section to interfere with the G.D., without forcing Besant to take direct responsibility. 

During 1894 the Amoun-Ra Temple No. 6 was chartered at Edinburgh, under the leadership of J.W. Brodie-Innes (Sub spe).  William Peck later incinerated the papers of the Temple in a panic in 1901, and many of the records are lost. 

January 6 -  Ahathoor Temple No. 7 at Paris was consecrated by Annie Horniman (F.E.R.) at 1 Avenue Duquesne 

February - Allan Benett - (Iehi Aour) joins the G.D. 

May 5 - Charles Rosher (Aequo Animo - A.A.) enters the G.D. 

12 March  - February - Horus Temple Bradford petitioned for direct control by Mathers to keep any “petticoat government” by Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) from affecting them.  This was a direct result of Gardner showing them the letter Florence Farr had sent him.  “Common Sense and good fellowship” was held to be more important at Horus than G.D. Grades 

Dr. Robert W. Felkin (Finem Respice - Respice) joins the G.D. 

14 March - Henry Pullen Burry (A.P.S.)  takes 5=6 

20 March - Grederick Leigh Gardner (De Profundis Ad Lucem - D.P.A.L.) joins the G.D. 

September - A. E. Waite (who was not yet a G.D. member) publishes an esoteric periodical called The Unknown World.  In an article in September Dr. Edmund William Berridge (Resurgam) makes his infamous  “Death of a Syncope” comment, in which he implies that betrayal of the Second Order of the G.D. might result in death, with a coroner's verdict of death of heart failure.  Because Westcott is widely known to be a coroner, this can be read to suggest masonic complicity in murder, as well as the "irresistable current of hostile will" promised in the Neophyte Initation. 

December - Mrs. J.W. Brodie-Innes (S.H.S.V.) 5=6 


22 March - Allan Benett (Iehi Aour) 5=6 

23 March -  Gerard Encausse - the French mystic “Papus” - is given an honorary initiation into Ahathoor Temple in Paris.  He later resigns to head the Martinist Order, a Rosicrucian Lodge in France. 

12 July- George Cecil Jones (Volo Noscere - Volo) joins G.D. 

October - Frederick Leigh Gardner (De Profundis ad Lucem - D.P.A.L.)  (not to be confused with Gerald Gardner, the 20th century esotericist who founded Gardnerian Wicca) visited Mathers (S.R.M.D) in Paris Mrs. Helen Mary Rand (Vigilate) was saying there at the time. 

November - Ananda Lodge of the E.S. of the T.S. is closed down 

December - Benjamin Cox (C.D.S.), Imperator of Osiris Temple at Weston-Super-Mare dies.  The Temple is defunct.  Cox was working on a 7=4 ritual when he died 

IV. First Rebellion and Manifesto 


By 1896, the Golden Dawn has about 300 members.  Of these about 100 are in the Second Circle, and about 60 are active.  The only 7=4 degrees were conferred on the Mathers' (S.R.M.D. and Vestigia) by the Secret Chiefs) - all Second Circle members are 5=6.  A growing number are Theoricus Adeptus Minor (Th.A.M.), and in 1896 "the Theorici" form the basis for a near rebellion against Mathers' rule of the Second Order. 

January  - Mathers (S.R.M.D) writes a stern letter reproving Annie Hornimanm (F.E.R.).  It is unclear precisely what prompted this, however it is clear that in late December Horniman wrote a critical letter to Mathers. The issues are Dr. Berridge's (Resurgam) interest in the teachings of Thomas Lake Harris, which include sexual techniques and polyfidelity, and possibly statements about sexual activity on the elemental plane made by or attributed to Mathers (S.R.M.D.). 

January  - Florence Farr (Sapienta Sapienti dono data - S.S.D.D.) reports that she has been contacted by the "Egyptian Adept," an ancient Egyptian Priest or Priestess who has made contact through a fragment of a mummy case.  Through correspondence with Mathers' (S.R.M.D.) Farr establishes to his and her satisfaction that this adept is in fact a genuine 8=3.  She is allowed to begin a small "work group" to contact and work with the Adept.  This is the core of what will later become her "Sphere group." 

2 January - Draft of a letter from Mrs. Helen Rand (Vigilate) and Westcott (S.R.M.D.), to Mathers, defending the action of some Senior Theorici who had opposed Dr. Berridge (Resurgam).  The bone of contention seems to have been his sexual theories, and improper conduct toward Mrs. Rand. 

8 January  - Mathers (S.R.M.D.) writes to Annie Horniman (F.E.R.), in a letter that can be described as "somewhat condescending."  Mathers mentions Mrs. A. J. Carden, (Amore), for whom for whatever reason he "recommended to elemental marriage" because of the “extreme danger of invoking an incubus instead of a fay, through want of self control.”  The details are unclear, however it makes it clear that despite his own celibate relationship with Moina, Mathers has expounded some teachings on elemental sexuality. 

14 January - By this time the crisis is over temporarily, and Horniman (F.E.R.) seems to have accepted a rebuke from Mathers and a hurt chastening by Moina. 

March  - Annie Horniman (F.E.R) complained that Mathers had no time for the arrears of work at 62 Oakley Square, which is described as the  "headquarters of the Second Order." Westcott was doing most of the work on grading examinations at this point, as well as most of the other paperwork in the organization.  It is unclear what was located at the Oakley Square site - possibly a business office used by Westcott. 

10 March (Wednesday) -  The Mathers (S.R.M.D. and Vestigia) were back in London on a visit by this time, probably for the equinox ceremony.  They were staying with Ada Waters (Recta Pete), and returned to Paris on the 13th. 

May - Isabelle de Steiger (A.P) 5=6 

13 May (Wednesday) - The group assembled by Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) to contact her "Egyptian Adept" makes its initial attempt.  Farr, Allan Benett (Iehi Aour), Charles Rosher (Aequo Animo - A.A.), and F.L. Gardner (D.P.A.L.) invoke Mercury - Taphthartharath - the ritual is written by Benett. 

June 4 - Mathers (S.R.M.D.) missed Corpus Christi because of politics, probably involvement with fringe Jacobite activities in Paris.  Annie Hornimann (F.E.R.) took this and Mathers' political involvement as an insult to herself and the order, and shortly thereafter off the Mathers allowance, which had been their principal income in the past three years. 

July -  A letter was sent to Mrs. Florence E. S. Kennedy (Volo), containing 13 charges against the Theorici -  11 were particular to Annie Horniman (F.E.R.) 

22 August - M. Eugene Jacob (Ely Star) takes joins Ahathoor 

September - Annie Horniman (F.E.R.) resigns as Sub-Praemonstrator (instructor) of Isis-Urania, but plans to stay active within the Second Order.  There is a general perception that by this time the Theorici are getting restless - threatening Mathers authority 

29 October - "Manifesto" issued.  In this document, Mathers (S.R.M.D.) chastens the rebellious Theorici, and commands them to "submit" to his rule, swearing an "oath of allegiance" to the Second Order and to himself as Chief.   Mathers repports that he is under terrible strain from receiving rituals of the Second Order from Secret Chiefs Using "table, ring and disc" (a Ouija like divining mechanism).  He also cites constant strife with opposing Demonic forces which has caused terrible nervous prostration, and blood loss through his nose, mouth, ears, etc. 

22 November -  Annie Horniman (F.E.R.) submits to the Chief.  She is in Florence, Italy, until the beginning of 1897 

28 November - Mme Jenny Jacob (Gnothi Seauton) joins the G.D. 

December - In November or December, Mathers negotiates unsuccessfully with George Redway's esoteric publishing house for advances and more money on his publication of a translation of The Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage, a manuscript from the French Libraire D'Arsenal.  By December, Mathers  has returned his advances from Redway, and stricken a new deal with G.D. member F. L. Gardner (D.P.A.L.) who offered financial backing for publication of the Abra-Melin book.  The enterprise is not philanthropic - Gardner means to make a profit - but it alleviates Mathers' short term financial problems in the wake of Horniman's withdrawal of his allowance. 

1 December, 1896 - Dr. Felkin (Respice) takes 5=6 

3 December - Mathers (S.R.M.D.) expells Horniman from the G.D.  Shortly after this, Dr. Pullen Burry (Anima pura sit - A.P.S.) went to Paris to see Mathers.  Mathers defends his expulsion of the contentious Hornimann, and his support of Berridge (Resurgam).  He also mentions that he is annoyed at Westcott (S.A.) felt he was usurping his authority. 

19 December - Mathers (S.R.M.D.) defends his expulsion of Horniman (F.E.R.) to Gardner (D.P.A.L.).  Over the next day or two, Gardner organizes a fairly humble petition to ask Mathers to reinstate Horniman.  He received 39 replies - 29 affirmative, 9 negative (including Allan Benett (Iehi Aour), Ada Waters (Recta Pete), and J.W. Brodie-Innes (Sub spe).  R. W. Felkin (Finem respice) declines to make a decision one way or the other.  The petition was never sent to Mathers, possibly because Gardner learned he would not accept it. 

25 December - Annie Horniman (F.E.R.) wrote William Peck (Veritas et Lux), a prestigious member of the Amoun-Ra Temple in Edinburg, and disclosed the information on her many loans to the Mathers, totaling more than ?1200, over several years.  This information is quickly made public within the Second Order. 


1897 saw the fallout of the first Rebellion within the Golden Dawn.  Mathers (S.R.M.D.) retained his strong control of the organization, but from this point became increasingly paranoid and jealous of his prerogatives regarding his role within the order.  By October of 1897, things looked bleak for the order.  One member commented that "my faith in the Chief is completely shaken" and said that "it seems hardly likely that the Order can go on much longer in the present unsatisfactory state of affairs."  Nevertheless, under the leadership of Florence Farr, the order would recover, and remain fairly stable for two years.

11 January - G. C. Jones (Volo) 5=6 

18 January - Elain Simpson (Donorum Dei Dispensatio Fidelis - Fidelis) joins G.D. 

January -  The Mathers (S.R.M.D. and Vestigia) visited London at the end of the month in order to calm the Theorici. Westcott, who had up to this point only been Registrar,  was made Vice-Imperator, giving him for the first time direct authority in the Second Order.  His replacement of Percy Bullock (L.O.) seems to have been amicable. 

17 March - Westcott (S.A.) has to resign as Vice-Imperator - because some occult manuscripts carrying his address were left in a cab, and he received some sort of official notice that a Coroner of the Crown could not be involved in magical activities.   Apparently, something similar happened in 1889 which caused him to stop lecturing for the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society.  Aliester Crowley (Perdurabo) later alleged that Mathers (S.R.M.D.) left the documents, and this was rumored or suspected at the time.  The truth of the matter is unknown. 

It seems almost certain that the removal of Westcott (S.A.) caused the collapse of the examination system. Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) did not care to enforce Second Order examinations, and Mathers (S.R.M.D.) was far too busy with "political business."  Annie Horniman (F.E.R.) was also gone at this point. Westcott suggested in a letter to Gardner that Charles Rosher (A.A.) and Miss Ada Waters (Recta Pete) pick up the work he had been doing, but it is clear that no-one else had the time to devote to the order's minutiae that Westcott had taken. 

1 April - Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) was appointed Vice-Imperator of  Isis-Urania, and made Chief Adept in Anglia.  At the same time, the formation of secret groups was advised and legalized by Mathers (S.R.M.D.) 

5 April  - Mathers' (S.R.M.D.) lost the Abra Melin manuscripts in a railway carriage in France.  It was May before he informed Gardner. 

6 April  - Howe thinks that Westcott (S.A.) may have had a mild nervous breakdown by this date, as a result of his involuntary retirement.  He wrote to Gardner (D.P.A.L.) complaining of being "ill."  Sometime after this Westcott formed his own small "Secret Group" for study and occult work. 

April - At this point, Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) was collecting money for the Mathers.  Ada Waters (Recta Pete) came back from Paris with the news that the Mathers needed ?75.  Amoun-Ra gave Mathers all its extra funds. 

1 May - Mathers (S.R.M.D.) travelled to Scotland to take on problems in Amoun-Ra.  He apparently briefly made himself Imperator, in the same way that Westcott (S.A.) had briefly been Imperator of Horus during its problems.  Mathers displaced Brodie Innes (Sub Spe) to Praemonstrator, and Peck (V.E.L.) to Vice-Imperator.  By late 1897, Peck was Imperator. 

May 1897 - A Pamphlet on the teachings of Thomas Lake Harris is issued by "Respiro" - generally understood to be Dr. Berridge (Resurgam).  At one point the author describes how he worked magic against an opponent.  There is every evidence to indicate that this was documentation of a magical attempt by Berridge to injure Annie Horniman (F.E.R.) and a version of the pamphlet with a derisive bit of doggerel which made the matter more clear was sent to a member. 

9 May - Gardner (D.P.A.L.) finds out about Mathers' (S.R.M.D.) troubles, and makes an offer of money and lodging until Mathers completes his work.  The terms include a cessation of all political work, restoration of Annie Horniman (F.E.R.), and the offer was genuinely somewhat rude in nature.  Mathers refused indignantly, but was fairly kind to Gardner. 

May  - Subsequently, Gardner (D.P.A.L.) complained to Mathers (S.R.M.D.) about Berridge (Resurgam), and wrote to Berridge saying that he would likely hear from Horniman’s solicitors.  By this time the fight between Berridge and Horniman was very bitter indeed.  Based on the poem, Mathers did suspend Berridge for six months. 

2 July - Mathers (S.R.M.D.) dispatches the Abra-melin Manuscript to Gardner (D.P.A.L.). 

July - At some point during this period, Mathers (S.R.M.D.) was talking of fear of assassination, which Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) privately derided. 

August - Westcott (S.A.) had an "astral visitor" who was "known to him" who advised him he should not work with Annie Horniman (F.E.R.) or any other sorores.  From this point on Westcott did not work with the women of the order in private, and he was already out of all public involvement. 

15 August - With Berridge's (Resurgam) suspension almost up, Gardner (D.P.A.L.) wrote him a strongly worded, possibly threatening letter. 

17 August -  Mathers (S.R.M.D.) criticized Gardner (D.P.A.L.) for his rebuke of Berridge (Resurgam), and even Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) thought Gardner was out of line.  Gardner's behavior seems to have been becoming more erratic, which Mathers attributed to his possession of the Abra-Melin manuscripts. 

22 August - Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) wrote a humiliating letter to Gardner (D.P.A.L.), in which she said she could not recommend him for further official position in Isis-Urania. 

August - Early in August Gardner (D.P.A.L.) wrote an angry letter to the member whose function was to circulate notices of meetings, because she had failed to invite him to the August  7 ceremony.  She took exception to his tone and complained to Florence Farr (S.S.D.D). 

8 September - Gardner (D.P.A.L.) resigned from Isis-Urania and sent a notice for Dr. Pullen-Burry (A.P.S.) to read at the equinox ceremony.  Gardner complained bitterly and wrote a condemnatory letter to Pullen-Burry when the latter failed to read his letter before the assembly. 

9 September - around this time the Second order moved to new premises at 36 Blythe Road, off Hammersmith Road.  Gardner had presented a book case, and agreed to leave it until after he ceremony, though he refused to let the order buy it from him. 

November - Despite factionalization, Amoun-Ra was still in business at this point, and was building its own Second Order vault.  Isabelle De Steiger (Alta Peto) painted the Vault at Edinburgh 


We know comparatively little of 1898.  A survey of available information would seem to indicate that the year was "slow."  On the other hand, there is also a lack of documentation.  The extensive knowledge of the order in 1896-97 is partially because of correspondence from Annie Horniman and F. L. Gardner, both of whom moved away from the organization (Annie suspended, and Gardner a corresponding member of Horus Temple feuding with Florence Farr).  On the whole, 1898 seems to have been a milder year for the order.  Letters indicate that Florence Farr was an effective "cushion" between the Theorici, and Mathers' high-handedness, and the Chief himself was deeply enmeshed in Jacobite politics, and the Isis Movement he hoped to inaugurate in Paris.  Where his attention was focused on the order, it was on the feuding Amoun-Ra Temple in Edinburgh, which by late 1899 seems to have almost entirely collapsed.  In general the storm that would destroy the order in Jan-May of 1900 broke rather suddenly, after a time of seeming peace.  Without doubt, however, there were deep tensions within the order.  

February - Horus Temple Bradford petitioned for direct control by Mathers to keep any “petticoat government” by Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) from affecting them.  This was a direct result of Gardner showing them the letter Florence Farr had sent him.  “Common Sense and good fellowship” was held to be more important at Horus than G.D. Grades 

February - Eugene Jacob (Ely Star) takes 5=6 at Ahathoor 

29 July - Westcott (S.A.) went to Edinburgh 29 July 1898.  By this point, Amoun-Ra Temple is apparently in complete collapse.   The Temple is divided between followers of Brodie-Innes (Sub Spe), and followers of Peck (L.E.R.), who support Mathers (S.R.M.D.) - a total of about fifteen on each side.  In a private letter, Westcott suggested that “All the scotch have reckoned him (Mathers) up correctly but a few seniors are doing like one in London (probably meant to be Florence Farr) tolerating a master in hope of further profit."  Mathers was apparently quite unpopular, and Brodie-Innes section of the Amoun-Ra Temple can be viewed as being in more or less open rebellion at this point.   Westcott said that Peck's faction had already had some defections and resignations. 

22 September - Camille Videgrain (Sursum Corda - S.C.) joins Ahathoor in Paris 

18 November - Aliester Crowley (Perdurabo) initiated 


March  - The Mathers' "Rite of Isis" presented at Bodiniere Theatre in the Rue Saint-Lazare in March 1899.  This was part of an ongoing esoteric project of the Mathers' which did not directly relate to the Golden Dawn.  Though couched as a historical project, the idea was to expose the public to the old Graeco-Roman mystery cult of Isis, and revive Isis worship in Paris.  This would lead to Mathers' crowning public achievement, the presentation of a reconstructed Isis Temple at the 1900 Paris World's Fair. 

3 March - A. E. Waite (S.R.) takes 5=6 

18 March - Elaine Simpson (Fidelis) takes 5=6 

May - Crowley (Perdurabo) becomes 4=7.  He completes examination, and is qualified as a nominal 5=6, but is refused initiation to the Second Order. 

August - Crowley goes into a "magical retreat" at Boleskine in Scotland, to attempt to work Mathers' Abra-Melin process. 

November - Dawning homosexual scandal.  There appears to have been police investigation of some homosexual conduct at Cambridge, and Crowley's name was proposed in reference to it, along with some of his G.D. associates, including Allan Bennett.  No charges were filed, and no G.D. members were actively questioned by the police, though some of them may have been watched.  This and rumors of a sexual affair with Elaine Simpson (Fidelis), the daughter of  Mrs. Alice Simpson (Perseverantia et Cura Quies - Preserverantia) 

V. What Has not Gone Before

I think it is worth a brief note to describe a few of the really well known events that had not occurred by December 1899 - everyone knows about them, and it may be easier this way to place them firmly out of mind.  Notably, the series of events (best left vague for those who are not already familiar with them) that led to the offer to reinstate Horniman, the Telegram, the January 12th Adept Council, the letter from Mathers (S.A.) to Farr (S.S.D.D.) which suggested that Westcott forged the Sprengel letters, etc. were all some weeks in the future.  Needless to say the "Battle of Blythe Road" in which Crowley briefly took possession of the Second Order Vault and catalyzed the "Revolt of the Adepts" was a future event as well.  

A. The Cipher Manuscript and the Fraulein Sprengel Letters 

Some notes about the famous "Cipher Manuscript" of the Golden Dawn 

  • The code used in the cipher manuscript is from Trithemius’ Polygraphiae (1561).  Kenneth MacKenzie, as well as any other competent occultist, would have had access to it. 
  • There are several different stories of exactly how the Cipher manuscripts came to be in the possession of Dr. William Wynn Westcott, however the following is a summary that covers most of the more common particulars - note that this is merely the "story" and that the cipher manuscripts were later disputed as forgeries by Westcott: 
  • The Cipher manuscripts were written by Johann Falk, around 1810-1815 
  • The papers were once held by Eliphas Levi, but he lost them, possibly on his visit in 1854 
  • Some years later they came into the possession of Kenneth Mackenzie.  Along with Frederick Hockley he wrote to Fraulein Sprengel - Soror Sapiens Dominatabur Astris (S.D.A) - and received permission to open an English Lodge “Hermanubis Temple No. 2”  The papers gave a contact address for Fraulein Sprengel -   Herr J. Enger, Hotel Marquardt, Stuttgart. 
  • Later MacKenzie and Hockley recruited Rev. A.F.A. Woodford to join them.  Hockley died in 1885.  MacKenzie died in 1886.  A.F.A. Woodford died in 1887, and William Wynn Westcott got his papers. 
  • Note that Rev. A.F.A. Woodford should not be confused either with Dr. W. R. Woodman - the third co-founder of the Golden Dawn, who died early on, or with Rev W.A. Ayton, an elderly gentleman who was a member of the Golden Dawn for years). 
  • Westcott wrote to Fraulein Sprengel (S.D.A.), and got a letter back, though her address had long since changed. (Note that she was not called “Anna” Sprengel yet.  After the turn of the Century Felkin was in contact with an “Anna Sprengel” who he thought might be a cousin of the deceased S.D.A.  He mentioned this to several people, and the name “Anna” got attached to S.D.A.) 
  • Letters to and from Fraulein Sprengel (S.D.A) were Translated by Mr. Albert Essinger, of the Sanitary Wood Wool Company 
  • The first letter, 26 Nov 1887, mentions Hermanubis Temple which was chartered to two Englishmen.  Without much fanfare, Westcott is chartered to open Temple No. 3, which is to have three chiefs 
  • Four letters are subsequently written from Frater In Utroque Fidelis, Secretary for Fraulein Sprengel (S.D.A.). The only other reference to continental adepts is a statement that on 7 Feb 1888, Frater Igne died at Naples. 
  • The final letter is  23 August 1890 from ex Uno Disces Omnes, who said that Fraulein Sprengel (S.D.A.) had gone against the will of the other continental adepts to charter Isis-Urania Temple No. 3, and that henceforth there would be no contact. 
B. Officers of Isis-Urania Temple 

Notes: despite the heavy turnover of offices in Mid 1892, I cannot find any specific information on a scandal or problem at that time. Miss Theresa Jane O’Connell (Cial agus neart - C.A.N.) was expelled in 1892 after a fight with Moina Mathers.  In fact what seems to have happened is that there was a general run of people being "kicked upstairs" with the appointment of Berridge as Sub-Imperator.  Florence Farr left as Cancellarius probably to work more heavily with Westcott in training, eventually taking over as Praemonstrator the next year.  Bullock moved from  Sub-Cancellarius to Cancellarius, the logical replacement, and his future father in law A.J. Carden (Fide) became the new Sub-Cancellarius. 

Accurate records end with the end of Westcott's term as Vice-Imperator.  At the end of 1897 12 other officers were appointed, and most characters can expect that if they are Isis-Urania members they are one of the "other sorts of sub-chiefs."  From the persons who served on the committees after the Rebellion of 1900, we can deduce who were probably office-holders in 1898-99. 

Officers of Isis-Urania
Sub Imperator  Berridge (Resurgam)  1892-March 1896 
P.W. Bullock (L.O.) March - Jan or Feb 1897
Vice-Imperator Westcott (S.A.) Feb -March 1897
Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) March 1897 - present
Praemonstrator Westcott (S.A.) through March 1893
Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) March 1893-1897 
Sub-Praemonstrator Berridge (Resurgam) during early 1892
Annie Hornimann (F.E.R.)  mid 1892-1896 
Helen Rand (Vigilate) 1896 through 1897 
Cancellarius Florence Farr (S.S.D.D.) early 1892 
Percy Bullock (L.O.) mid 1892 - March 1896
Dr. Pullen-Burry  (A.P.S.) 1896-97
Sub-Cancellarius Percy Bullock (L.O.) early 1892
Alexander Carden (Fide)  mid 1892 - march 1894 
Pullen-Burry  (A.P.S.) March 1894 - 1895
Pamela Bullock (Shemebar) 1896-97 

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