VI - The Golden Dawn Temple - Officers Ceremony and Costume

The Golden Dawn in the Outer

You already know that the Golden Dawn was an occult organization, which started accepting members around 1888.  However most of the history associated with the G.D. does not concern the "Golden Dawn" proper, but rather the "Second Order" (or "Inner Order") of the R.R. et A.C. of the Golden Dawn, which only existed after 1891-92.

Joining The G.D. in the Outer

There is very little exciting about the G.D. "in the Outer," as the First Order was called after 1892.  Members applied in writing to William Wynn Westcott's address, and were mailed a pledge form.  If they signed and returned it, they were then accepted or rejected.  In many cases, the Order initially rejected a membership, but counseled the applicant to apply again after about six months.  There appear to have been two elements here.  First, a certain degree of "high-handedness," admission might seem more desirable if it was delayed.  Secondly, there was a very real desire to turn away both the "idle curious" and those who might be intent on embarrassing or otherwise interfering with the order.  Remember that at this point, most English Gentleman's Clubs, and all Masonic Orders, functioned along these lines, and the process was not so mysterious or aberrant as it might seem today.  A.E. Waite was told by a friend that it was a "standard practice" for the Order to decline members "about whom they did not know anything," presumably using the interim to check out references, and friends of friends.  After the first brief reference in Lucifer, there is no indication that there was any "advertising" for the G.D. per se.  There may well have been other examinations as well. 

Arthur Conan Doyle was a friend of Dr. Henry Pullen-Burry, and the Dr. suggested he might apply for membership. Conan Doyle would later describe an "Astral Visitation" whereby he was examined for membership.  The process unnerved him, but convinced him of the reality of the Golden Dawn's powers.  Similar sensations have been described by other initiates who were examined either "in person" or "astrally" for membership in an occult order.  Conan Doyle's judgement can hardly be considered unimpeachable...he is the man who was utterly taken in by the Wright-Griffith Fairy Hoax.  However his experience is typical, rather than exceptional, and there is no question that the Golden Dawn claimed that its living Chiefs examined Outer Order applicants.  Whether the "Secret Chiefs" paid them much attention or not is conjecture.  Certainly Mathers made it clear in his "Manifesto" that and those "higher" initiates of 8=3 and beyond examined candidates prior to, and after, admission to the Second Order. 

The Golden Dawn in the Outer conferred the degrees of:

    0=0  Neophyte
    1=10 Zelator
    2=9 Theoricus
    3=8 Practicus
    4=7 Philosophus
The G.D. Officers:

There are two types of Officer within the Golden Dawn Temple.  The first is the "Ritual Officers" who have no very serious duties outside of the actual Temple Ceremonies.  The second is the actual "Officers" who govern the day to day affairs of the temple and do the paperwork.   The names of the Ritual Officers come from certain Eastern Mysteries.   At least for Outer Order Ceremonies, the Ritual Offices seem to have been filled by any qualified individual for a given ceremony.  In Flying Roll No. 1, Mathers says "Anyone who being a 4=7 and passes five Examinations becomes a nominal 5=6, and is competent to preside at First Order Assemblies [i.e. as Hierophant]..."  Even so, we can imagine that roles were frequently taken on by the same individual. 

The regular Officers were a more serious matter.  These were the individuals who actually "ran" the Golden Dawn, and they turned over fairly infrequently.   One is under the impression that Westcott, as "Chief Adept in Anglia" stood in as Heirophant except when Mathers was present. 

Ritual Officers

    Hierophant head of cult
    HiereusPriest – “expounder of the mysteries”
    Hegemon - “leader or general” prepares the candidate for initiation
    KeruxHerald – makes reports and announcement
    Stolistespriest in charge of sacred vestments
    Dadouchos torch bearer, assist the Heirophant, takes care of all the lamps and fires

Sub Imperator or Vice-Imperator 

    The Imperator ran a temple, but after 1892, Mathers remained Imperator of Isis-Urania, but lived in Paris.  The "Chief" returned for important ceremonies twice a year (rather than holding similar ceremonies at his Ahathoor Temple in Paris), however during the remainder of the year, the "Sub Imperator" was his spokesman and the head of the temple.  When Westcott was briefly in this position, it was changed to "Vice-Imperator" - after all he was one of the initial three chiefs.  One can assume that when Florence Farr succeeded to the position, it returned to "Sub-Imperator" though there is no specific evidence of this.
    This was the position of "Teacher" for the Temple.  The Praemonstrator was in charge of teaching ritual, and other subjects, or arranging for them to be taught.  Clearly, next to Imperator, this was the most important position in the Temple, and it was Florence Farr, Isis-Urania's Praemonstrator, who moved to Imperator after Westcott was forced to resign in March of 1897.
    The wealth of work with the Order in teaching ritual seems to have necessitated some help.  It isn't clear when Berridge began as Sub-Praemonstrator, though it must have been some reasonable time after May 1888, when he joined. 
    The Cancellarius of the Temple was basically Registrar, with a Sub-Cancellarius for support.  This person had the membership roll, or at least the mailing list of members, and presumably collected the dues.  It is clear that other individuals assisted the Cancellarius and Sub-Cancellarius with the mundane affairs of the Order.  Ada Cracknell was in charge of circulating manuscripts, and another member was a "Secretary" charged with mailing notices of upcoming meetings to members. 
    Westcott noted that in November 1897, amid the fallout from the first, abortive, rebellion of the Theorici, “12 other sorts of sub-chief” were appointed, but we have no record of who they were.
The Second Order - The G.D. In the Inner or the A.A. et R.C.

Initially, Second Order initiation consisted of nothing more than the 5=6 grade.  Shortly thereafter, the "Portal Grade" with no number was added.  Initially "nominal 5=6" members took the Portal Grade, and then the 5=6 Second Order initiation almost immediately thereafter.  By the late 90's however, there was a waiting period of 4-6 months. 

In addition there were "sub grades" within 5=6 

The Second Order was theoretically comprised of all those with the degrees of:

    5=6 Adeptus Minor
                 Zelator Adeptus Minor
                 Theoricus Adeptus Minor
                 Practicus Adeptus Minor
                 Philosophus Adeptus Minor
    6=5 Adeptus Major
    7=4 Adeptus Exemptus
Members of the G.D. Second Order were Zelator Adeptus Minor (Z.A.M.) or Theoricus Adeptus Minor (Th.A.M.).  There was actually curriculum for Practicus Adeptus Minor circulated around 1897, but there is no evidence by this time that anyone actually took the Grade.  The concept of Philosophus Adeptus Minor rounded out the logical procession, but no ritual or materials were made available...Mathers had not gotten that far by the time the Order collapsed. 

Westcott, Mathers, and Woodman were all self-anointed 7=4 from the day the G.D. was founded.  The grades beyond lay in the shadowy realm of the quasi human "Secret Chiefs."  Mathers claimed a 6=5 for Moina.  Otherwise, no G.D. member rose above 6=5. 

The Third Order, for what it may be worth included:

    8=3 Magister Templi
    9=2 Magus
    10=1 Ipissimus
Mathers claimed to have met members of the Third Order in the flesh, and Florence Farr's Egyptian Adept was asserted to be 8=3. 


  • Members of the G.D. Outer Order wear Black Robes
  • Members of the G.D. Inner Order wear White Robes (but wear Black Robes at Outer Order Ceremonies)
  • The grade of a member can be told from the sash which they wear
  • 5=6 Members would have two sashes, crossed, a black and a white. 
Robes were in fact optional, though the grade sash had to be worn during Temple Rituals.  Members of the Second Order wore a double sash at Outer Order Ceremonies.   While doing rituals that were not part of regular Temple Ritual, there is no indication that robes were worn.  It is unclear for example, whether or not the "Sphere Group" used the G.D. Robes, or insignia, while working, but it can be presumed, since it was optional to wear robes even for Temple Functions, that robes were not compulsory. 
    Hierophant – Red Cloak, *Lamen, Sceptre, Yellow and White Nemyss (Egyptian Head-Dress), Lamen affixed to a Yellow Collar.
    Hiereus – Black Cloak, Lamen, Sword
    Hegemon - White Cloak, Lamen, Sceptre
    Kerux – Lamen, Lamp, Wand
    Stolistes – Lamen, Cup
    Dadouchos –  Lamen, Sword
    *The "Lamen" described is the Rosy Cross Symbol.  

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