Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
The original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was a magical fraternity founded in London in 1888 by Dr. William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, which ceased to exist under that name in 1903 but which continued under two spin-off organizations: the Stella Matutina and the Alpha et Omega.
Various organizations exist to this day which claim to be the rightful successors to the original Golden Dawn. In addition to several orders which use the original title, groups which claim decent from the historical Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn include
- The Golden Dawn Research Center
- The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn
- The Oxford Golden Dawn Occult Society
- The Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn
- The Hermetic Order of the Morning Star
Despite their common origins, these groups often have widely varying practices and beliefs.
Influences on Golden Dawn concepts and work include freemasonry, theosophy, Eliphas Levi, Papus and medieval grimoire magic. The synthetization of these influences into a new school of thought is largely the merit of Mathers, who at times was teaching things he had discovered only days or hours before.
The "Golden Dawn", as it is commonly referred to, was probably the single greatest influence on twentieth-century western occultism. While it existed, it was the focal point of the (re-)development of magical thinking in Europe. In it, most concepts of magic and ritual that have since become core elements of Wicca, Thelema, western mystery schools and other forms of magical spirituality were first formulated. Although the influence of Chaos magick pursued by the magical order of the Illuminates of Thanateros is arguably challenging the predominance of Golden Dawn magic, the latter remains the spiritual core of nearly all of the more ceremonial branches of western magic.
In its heyday, many cultural celebrities belonged to the Golden Dawn. Some well known members include:
- Algernon Blackwood
- Aleister Crowley
- Florence Farr
- Dion Fortune
- Arthur Machen
- Pamela Colman Smith
- Arthur Edward Waite
- William Butler Yeats