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on 26 December 2012
Excellent book but not a lone worker book. You need to be very experienced to work the "exercises" to the best advantage. Not recommended for the novice unless under tuition. Recommended to those seeking in-depth knowledge in an experienced group and in a structured and considered way.
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on 24 July 2016
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, based in Britain, was one of the most important Western esoteric orders of the late 19th and early 20th century. Luminaries such as W B Yeats, Charles Williams and Dion Fortune were members of the order or one of its offshoots, and so was notorious non-luminary Aleister Crowley. During the 1930's, the Golden Dawn was long past its prime. This prompted another member, Israel Regardie, to publish the order's secret knowledge papers and rituals in the hope that this unprecedented act would save the lore from oblivion. The resultant work, “The Golden Dawn”, was published in four volumes between 1937 and 1940. The publication history of Regardie's magnum opus need not concern us here. Suffice to say is that a “seventh edition” in a single mastodon volume was recently published under the editorship of John Michael Greer, who heads a small Golden Dawn-inspired group of his own, known as the DOGD. Greer claims to have studied all the material in this book, and I for one believe him!

I haven't studied it, and probably never will. But yes, skimming “The Golden Dawn” was fascinating. I always wondered what on earth these guys were *actually doing* in their secret chambers, apart from appearing strangely clad in front of a coffin containing a likeness of Christian Rosenkreuz á la Madam Tussauds. And, of course, trying to stay clear of Crowley! It turns out that more was involved. Much more…

The rituals and techniques described in this book are quite detailed and serve very definite purposes. Conjuring angels, “gods” and other spirit-beings is an important activity. Another is creating a special body of light which will make it possible for the magician to traverse the astral spheres. Alchemy was practiced, but the chapter on it is surprisingly short. The path is one of spiritual evolution towards enlightenment and the ultimate goal to become one with the uncreated light, thereby escaping the consequences of the fall of spiritual man into matter. The purpose of other rituals is less clear. One ritual is said to make the magician invisible, another gives his astral body the power to shape-shift into different forms. The last chapter, on Enochian chess, is very obscure. Not even Regardie understood its significance, and never met any other living GD member who did. Editor Greer implies that he has understood its intricacies, but refuses to say more… That being said, it's obvious that initiates of the Golden Dawn were supposed to learn and practice advanced occult techniques. Sometimes, the goal seems lofty and is couched in Christian terminology. At other times, the magician is supposed to simply travel across and observe the astral world, including the demonic regions (mentioned only in passing, though).

“Theologically” speaking, the Golden Dawn material sounds eclectic or syncretistic. There is a lot of Biblical terminology and imagery, including crosses of many shapes and sizes. This is combined with Egyptian deities, Enochian magic (derived from, but apparently more advanced than, the 16th century system of John Dee and Edward Kelly), astrology, Tarot and the Hermetic Kabbala. The Golden Dawn itself is said to be a direct continuation of the medieval Rosicrucians. Apart from a few Sanskrit terms, there is no connection to Theosophy, so many New Age people will probably be just as bewildered as I was when looking through this material. It comes from an entirely different mental universe (or astral plane?). Thankfully, there is no sex magic either! Regardie believes that the Christian-sounding language and invocations of a personal god are to be taken symbolically, and that “God” in Golden Dawn's system is really an impersonal cosmic force from which the astral and material planes have emanated.

A curious feature of this material is that its public dissemination hasn't made it less “esoteric”. Quite the contrary, the documents in “The Golden Dawn” are almost as inaccessible as if they were still secret, which gives them a more authentic feel than they would have otherwise. While self-initiation into the GD tradition is said to be possible, I strongly suspect that finding and joining a legitimate neo-GD lodge might be a good idea if this really is your cup of blessed wine…

Not sure how to rate “The Golden Dawn: The Original Account of the Teachings, Rights and Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order”, but since Archdruid Emeritus J.M.G probably did a really good job giving Malkuth this seventh corrected edition, I give it five stars!
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on 19 October 2017
The book claims that 'John Michael Greer has taken this essential resource back to its original, authentic form'

This might imply he fixed numerous issues with the last, and previous editions. This is not the case. Epic disappointment - It was an opportunity to fix various trundicated papers and rituals. For context, the Bristol Temple at the time used mutilated Stella Matutina rituals, and while Regardie had reason for fragmented knowledge and papers, the continuing failure to reinstate all the diagrams, the proper SM ritual and cross reference and annotate differences to the text in different editions comes down to poor editorial standards and ambitions. A proper revision, that's what the book deserved, but is not not what it got. It had so much potential... but it no worse than the old Regardie small brick so if its new to you there may well be interesting things. If you buy it expecting something new (ie a genuinely revised and corrected edition) as opposed to the few new bits you get, you will be sorely disappointed.

Llewellyn, give this book to someone willing to put in the work for the next edition.
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on 26 January 2010
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded in 1887, was the foremost magical school of the Victorian era and remains influential in occult circles to this day. Its members included the poet W. B. Yeats, self-styled Great Beast, Aleister Crowley and the founder of the first Western Buddhist Order, Allan Bennett. In the 1930s, Israel Regardie worked for a while as Crowley's secretary, during which time he joined one of the magical groups that had hived off from the original Golden Dawn. Having collected together all the Golden Dawn literature he could find, he decided to publish it. Some vilified him for breaking his vow to secrecy, others praised him for putting this material into the public domain. From an historical standpoint, this book is fascinating, revealing the full rituals, regalia and training of this most famous of all magical Orders. It was a fearfully complex system, the sources of which range from ancient Egypt, through Greek Gnosticism and the Hebrew Kabalah to late medieval magical Grimoires. The genius of the GD's founders was to synthesise this material into a workable initiatory magical system. Just how workable depends on how you're blessed with time and resources. Do you have a spare room you could convert into a Vault of the Adepti? How are your skills in wand-making (you'll need several)? Robe-making (you'll need a few of those too). But seriously, if you want to know where a lot of modern ritual magic originated, this is a good place to look. More an historical treasure-trove than an easy read or a straight-forward how-to manual though. You have been warned!
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on 15 December 1998
This book is simply a must have for any Ceremonial Magician! While it is true that there are other paths in the world that practice High Ceremonial Magick, essentially all of them have borrowed in greater or lesser degrees from the Golden Dawn. This book includes all the initiations as practiced in the Temple of Stella Matutina, plus all of the original Knowledge Lectures that were given to the members in the Outer Order of the Golden Dawn. While most of this material has been published elsewhere, no where else has it been kept in as close to its original form as Regardie has preserved it, complete with lectures from W. Wynn Westcott and S.L. "MacGregor" Mathers. In other words, why have you been reading this essay rather then clicking on the "Add To My Shopping Cart" button?
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on 10 February 1998
I read this book and am very impressed with the contents. It has everything that a magician could want. It makes somewhat difficult reading at times but it can be gotten through. It offers a complete system of magick;enochian tablets and chess, how to consecrate ritual tools, scrying. It's all here. What made an impression on me, is Regardies claim that magicians try to attain Godhead as the buddhists do. Magicians do it through ritual, buddhists do it through meditation. This book is definetly required reading for the magician.
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on 8 April 2000
A wealth of information. It assumes a degree of background understanding but, if you can persevere, contains all the information one could conceivably require to enter fully up to the middle levels of Ceremonial Magic. Dense. My only criticism would be that it will remain opaque for many. Yet that would be acceptable to many of those for whom its meaning unfolds. Thus though he reveals many mysteries and rents many veils for those with the eyes to see he also protects the same mysteries from those who would profane them. Love & Light & Lemniscates
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on 20 June 2000
Essential reading reference for the serious/adept magician. For those seeking self-initiation and/or a study book to help with the vast and often complex material, then treat yourself to "Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition", by Chic Cicero. Using these two volumes together produces the ideal training system for those who are serious about the Work.
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on 2 May 2015
This book needs to be read as a study of Western occultism. If anyone thinks that there is easy way to manipulate Nature or the Law of Universe, the consequences shall be so bad for such usurpers. As Israel himself suggested to one of his admirers, one need to strongly desist the attempt to contact with unseen world, if one is not capable, or his/her intention is good (such as so-called white-magic). Type-setting of this book is so clear, covers broad subject of the well known Golden-Dawn order. As a reference book for western occultism, this may suits in your library if you were researcher.
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on 28 January 2009
....both the book itself and the contents.

It's incredibly wordy and much of it has (as reviewer Steven Allen points out) been rejected by modern magicians. If you ever manage to read it all you're either very dedicated, or you have too much time on your hands. If you actually use it all.....well, get a life!

The mystically and magically inclined Victorians didn't have our numerous resources. For them the Golden Dawn must have seemed like a mysterious and exciting portal, beckoning them into a secret world. Learning the Hebrew alphabet probably sounded like the first step into the Great Unknown.

But now we have the Net. We have a vast selection of (not always good) books. We have (hopefully) discovered more effective ways of spending our magical time than indulging in the GD's antiquated and verbose rituals.

If you really feel attracted to this system, try Liam Christopher or John Michael Greer. They have streamlined it for modern usage. Christopher uses Regardie as a text book, but you don't have to. You can easily dispense with Regardie's padding.

Two stars for historical interest, but if you really want to step into the 21st century, try Jason Augustus Newcombe or Philip H Farber.
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