The Golden Dawn’s magkical system is probably the most famous of all Western esoteric traditions. This simple, down-to-earth book explains what it is, its history, how it works and it offers the reader an introduction to the basic ritual work.
It investigates the sources of the Western tradition and the roots of Hermeticism. The authors’ account of the history of the Order of the Golden Dawn and its colourful founders is very thorough and makes for engaging reading.
The book clearly illustrates the principles and philosophies of high magick and explains its laws in a straightforward manner. In addition, it covers all of the various areas of magkical knowledge and provides plenty of Golden Dawn rituals for the newcomer.
I also recommend Israel Regardie’s Garden Of Pomegranates: Skrying On The Tree Of Life, edited and annotated by Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero. This is a classic work on the Qabalah for the more advanced student.
As an alternative to the Golden Dawn tradition, I recommend the book Foundations Of High Magick by Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips. This is the best work explaining the theory and practice of Art Magick, the venerable Ogdoadic tradition which differs markedly from the Golden Dawn.
The Essential Golden Dawn contains several appendixes, a glossary of terms, an extensive bibliography and a thorough index.
on 3 June 2003
I found this book very informative, but it was quite difficult to get into, this may be due to my young age. I found it gave a very good and easy way to understand the basis of the Golden dawn and a lot of background to it. I would recommend this book as a must to all people studying magic, whether you have been studying it for a long time or a short time, it really is very helpful.
on 5 January 2014
"The Essential Golden Dawn" is a good introduction to the history, philosophy and rituals of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a British occult society which flourished during the 1890's. Although soon torn apart by personality conflicts and ideological differences, the Golden Dawn nevertheless plays a role in modern Western esotericism second only to the Theosophical Society.
Former members of the order and its off-shoots include Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, Charles Williams, A. E. Waite, Paul Foster Case, Arthur Machen and Nobel Prize laureate W. B. Yeats. Another well known ex-member was Israel Regardie, who revealed the Golden Dawn's secret rituals in 1937, ironically in order to protect them from being forgotten or distorted by the dying fragment of the original society. The authors of this book, Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, have attempted to resurrect the Golden Dawn, apparently with the blessings of Regardie.
Since "The Essential Golden Dawn" also contains introductory chapters on Hermeticism and the history of Western esotericism, the book can be read with some benefit even by people who aren't specifically interested in the Gold Dawn's system. Those fascinated by secret societies will find the sections on the Golden Dawn's initiatory rituals to be of particular interest (yes, you really are supposed to lie down in a coffin!). Some magical rituals are described and the authors reveal some of the subjects taught in the higher grades of the order, including astral travel, scrying and Enochian magic. The Ciceros also reveal something I have suspected for a long time: the legend of Christian Rosenkreuz is an allegory for the life of Christ.
After trying to digest John Michael Greer's Qabalah book "Paths of Wisdom" twice without succeeding very well, I found "The Essential Golden Dawn" a good praeparatio evangelica, so I give it four stars. This may not be meaty enough for the hard core occultist, but it's certainly golden milk for the masses!