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The Golden Dawn and Charity (or, the lack thereof)


I've been thinking a lot lately about the vast disparity between the esteem our Eastern counterparts are held in their respective cultures, and the lack of esteem we receive here in our own. A monk in Tibet is respected, loved even-and make no mistake, they are every bit the Mages and Wizards we are. We are not respected. There is no getting around it. Call yourself a metaphysician, an Alchemist, and you might be able to dodge the disparagement train. Tell someone your a Ceremonial Magician,a Mage, a Wizard, and watch as their eyes glaze over and they do their best to escape the conversation.

So...why the difference in respect?

The monks in eastern cultures (be they Tibetan Buddhist or otherwise) are active in their communities. They do tons of charity. They give people succor in their temples. They feed the poor. They serve and add to the communities within which they exist, and so are loved and respected.

We do none of these things.

I'm certain there are Temples that do the occasional charitable thing, but we don't have a culture of service from what I've experienced. This, in my opinion, negatively affects both our image and our spiritual development. Our work as Magacians guides us to look inward-our charitable work would give us the opportunity to turn our compassionate gaze outward, as well. Without any real charitable presence, all one who is not a Mage has to understand us with are rumors and nonsense...or worse yet, the arrogance and defensiveness study of a sacred and hidden tradition tends to breed in persons. I'm sure I'm not the only mage who has made an ass of himself cutting someone down for daring to question him, or for being unlucky enough to be raised a fundamentalist of some sort.  What is it old Gandalf said? "Be wary of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." How True!

Learning how to work with one's intellect in a positive fashion is part of the growing pains of the modern mage-wielding the Sword of Air responsibly. Perhaps, if i'd been tempering my Magical work with Charitable work, I would have taken a step back, and realized that other person's feelings and self-respect where more important than my being Right in an arguement.

This same charitable work would improve our image and increase the number of aspiring Adepts we have. How many Adeptus Exemptus do you think are running around out there? (I'll give you a hint: not enough.) Look at our brother Freemasons-you cant throw a rock without hitting one of their temples, and they've had more bad press than anything we've had to deal with. The difference between us and them, from the outside perspective, is that most people know a Freemason, and they know him for doing something positive. They are respected members of the community-respected because they are known for doing good things. What is the Golden Dawn known for, in the community? Usually nothing, and if something, than nothing good. If we were doing food drives for poor familys, coat drives in the winter for the poor who are cold, raising money to by schoolbooks-we would have tons of great press, and I daresay an exponentially larger number of members. It definitely beats being learned about from what's on the Net, as the current contreversy so aptly demonstrates.

It warms my heart to see G.H.Frater L.E.S. taking the high road, and I hope he will be joined by the other leaders so that we are "Fraternal" orders in more than name....and so that people don't look at me like I'm a nutbag when they find out what I am. That would be nice. Not so much to make me feel better, but so that they would perhaps consider practicing the Sacred Art that I love so much.

I don't have a local physical temple, and don't have the authority to act on behalf of my Order-if I did, I'd start to work on this immediately. Would it be much too ask each temple to engage in some small charitable act each month? 


  1. Care Frater,

    You bring up something important. I agree with you that service to the community is important in all kinds of spiritual work, be it Buddist or Hermetic.

    Paul Foster Case criticized the Golden Dawn for laying to much emphasis on personal development while forgetting service. When he created B.O.T.A. (the spinoff of Alpha et Omega) they used sound and colour as a method of healing in their outer service.

    They have a "white book" where one are able to write the name of a person one judges needs healing.

    In my Freemasonic Lodge we donate some money at the closing of the Lodge into a collection bag.

    The question is how we should do it in a G.D. Temple? The B.O.T.A. method has some ethical implications, as one, in my opinion, cannot heal anyone without their consent. When healing is done in a Golden Dawn Temple it often is directed to a member. Healing can also be done in a general way, toward all of humanity, to the rainforest, etc.

    The other alternative is to donate money as the Freemasons. But as Temples are secret the Order of course cannot have credit for that. So either way we cannot benefit in the eyes of the public.

    So all community work must be done in secret, it we don't want to break the old rule not to reveal the identity of our Temples.


  2. Care V.H.Frater S.R.,

    I had forgotten about the requirement of secrecy-I've always assumed, since the earlier profanation and the movement of the profaned materials to the outer Order, that the requirement for secrecy in the outer was moribund.I'd thought that we could do good works under the auspice of the Golden Dawn, while keeping the RR et Ac Hermetically sealed.

    I think that, in this day and age, with so many students dispersed to the winds and meeting online for the majority of their interaction, that perhaps having a web-based charity program would be the best thing. We wouldn't have to reveal the work of any individual temples, but could work under the broader Golden Dawn umbrella. There's no seal on that. I think. ;-)
    Perhaps a public healing for a negative situation, such as the genocide in Darfur, something of that nature?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. The H.O.G.D and other organizations within the G.D community could always encourage its member in doing charitable work in existing organizations outside of the Golden Dawn. Making charity and umbrella project amongst all the temples is also valuable to my mind.

  5. Care dear Frater,

    thanks for this interesting blog, especially for explaining certain spagyrical methods and experiments, this was most inspiring for me.

    But although i appreciate that you seem to care for what misery is going on in this world, i dont think that "mundane" charitable work is a must or necessary task for a temple in the hermetic tradition in order to help people or make the world a better place.
    Because in fact a good working temple staff is exactly doing this without any additional charitable work: it helps other people who come seeking for initiation with their energetic evolution- what better service could be done for mankind to make this world a better place- especially regarding the present state our planet is in?
    Furthermore, this special service is done neither for personal gratification, nor for money- and ideally it leads to an overall healing of the personality, that is knowledge of ones divine inner nature.

    Being a temple member for several years i know that there are people out there who have mundane jobs to accomplish, who have families and other social structures to care for, who have not much money and who dedicate all their spare time for perfecting theirselves and the temple work- and the latter only to be able to correctly initiate aspiring candidates in the age-old wisdom of the tradition.

    Also, as being a student of the hermetic sciences for myself, i noticed that through the work i do, although on the surface it may seem very self-centered, the energetic development i have undergone even on the elemental level seems to have influenced my social and familiar surroundings for the better also, because human contact is always an exchange of energies.
    I think the LVX you invoke radiates out to the people you love, if you are conscious about it or not- and can create change for the better in them too.
    The transformation of the world is possible, if you can transform yourself, or: only he who can change himself, can be able to change the world.
    This is the reason why i do not think that this work is self-centered. It only may seem like this on the surface.

    Also, and this is the last i would like to say before i apologize for this somewhat lengthy comment, is: for me it never was of interest what other people think of my spiritual "profession" as a magician.
    I never felt the need to discuss this with people, especially not with people who i felt to be a little short-minded on "esoteric" issues like this.

    In addition to this i think that it is difficult to communicate an initiatic worldview to non-initiates without asking oneself what may be ones own motive behind trying to do this.
    When someone wants to know all this, and wants it really deep down in his heart, he will be knocking on the threshold of initiation for himself.

    Silence is indeed a magical virtue, and up to now silent decisiveness, humility and devotion to the work have always been great guiding lights in regard to this beautiful magical work we are doing.

    In L.V.X.,
    Frater L.e.N.e.

  6. Thank you for the excellent comment Frater L.E.N.E.! Great observations-I would, however, say that one benefit of doing public mundane charity work is that it improves the reputation of the Temple and Order, and in so doing, attracts more people to initiate into our sacred tradition. I do care about what others think, because I want them to join us!=) If we are known as altruistic generally, perhaps more will give us a deeper look. I think it is sad and heart-rending that more Westerners have positive views of the Eastern traditions than our own, and feel that charity and a positive "mundane" face is part of that.

    Thank you again for your observations-Frater A.I.T.

  7. I agree.

    I too think often about the fact why western people who are interested in esoterics are more attracted to eastern spiritualism.
    I think simply because it is more popular, and i also know many people who want to jump through different systems just out of entertainment and curiosity. "The market of religions".
    Many people are also not willing to truly dedicate themselves to earnest work, they are repulsed by the fact that there is a lot of hard and disciplined work involved. Magical entertainment must be conquered and the hermetic path especially must be regarded as a life-long endeavour! So many people are simply too lazy- they seek for salvation by minimun effort, and this is also symbolic for the times we live in. Everything has to be ready at hand. Buy a guided meditation CD for 100 bucks and delete your bad karma :-)))

    Furthermore, i noticed that for example the occult scene in Berlin is very huge, but most people who are attracted to western magic go to O.T.O. and saturnian brotherhoods. I have some good friends belonging to this or that kind of Order, but truly i think most of them are not really interested in spiritual attainment like it is propagated in the G.D., rather they are flirting with some kind of "crowleyan" dark and broody flair, and they dismiss the structured work of the G.D. as "overcome", justifiying this by citing some strange passages from the Liber Al, and go on to waste their heads with psychedelics, thereby practising some kind of confusing chaos magick, or get lost in superficial intellectual speculations about the nature of the Abyss and things like that.

    But i truly think: maybe it has to be so that the hermetic path of the G.D. is attracting only small amounts of people compared to other systems.
    It may be the nature of the work.

    Maybe you have read "The Chymical wedding of Christian Rosencreutz" once? I often have to think about the passage when all the people who want to partake in the wedding assemble in the hall of the castle, and then they get "weighed" and sorted out by the maiden of Alchemy, and from some hundred people at the beginning only a dozen or so are left, and they are ready to join.

    I think blogs like yours or Sincerus Renatus' already do much good towards the reputation of the G.D., so go on with your good work!

    I also once thought about manufacturing Abramelin oil or incense for selling.
    Another excellent option would be writing a book on magic, maybe with different contributors who write about different aspects on hermeticism. If such a book like this would find its way on the esoteric book market, through a well-known publisher on this field, this could be an excellent magnet for new people too.

    There are many deep and serious misunderstandings out there about the nature of the G.D., especially among Thelemites and Chaos magicians, and it would be time to clear them out.

    Summa Scientia Nihil Scire,
    Frater L.e.N.e.

  8. Care H. Fra. L.e.N.e.,

    Dear Reiner,

    Perhaps it's time to start writing on your blog. You have lots of important things to say to the Golden Dawn community. Your insightful comments here makes this clear.

    In Licht, Leben und Liebe

  9. Here, here! I second that. Looking forward to reading your blog, H.Frater L.E.N.E =)

  10. Thank you Frater AIT and VH Frater SR for the kind words and encouragement!

  11. Care Fr A.I.T,

    thank you so much for your Blog and this post in particular. I support your comments, ideas and suggestions.

    As a whole the western magical traditions, the GD especially, does not engage in service and is far too self focused. It actually makes me want to vomit. Some points:

    1. Service is the essence of all spiritual traditions and religions, east and west. If we do not embrace this and build into our Orders ways we (as individuals and groups) can serve, we simply are not practicing correctly.

    2. The Rosicrucian tradition is a service tradition and its inspiration, even in the Outer Orders, should motivate us all to serve.

    3. ANYONE who can spend time or energy or money engaging in an Order in the West or being online reading Blogs or books is to be counted as rich beyond measure in this world. 20 000 people today will die of hunger or poverty related causes. I do not buy the lack of time/money argument. $60 USD will feed a Tibetan nun for a year. $40 will provide a solar cooker to feed an African family for years to come. $350 will provide a well for a village giving access to clean water and saving many lives because of the better sanitation. How much do we spend on books, tools, fancy incense? How much do our Orders spend on furnishings? An Order or a group with 10 members - donating $10 a month each (not that much for most of us), that's $1200 a year. Not hard to do, but a great service.

    4. Magic needs to be earthed or have a Malkuth/material basis component. Active service in the real world, helping those in need through charity and good works earths the current of service better than anonymous healing ceremonies (which are also needed). Having Order members helping the homeless, the poor, the sick, refugees and others in need is also a far better way of developing compassion, which is the essential quality of our traditions.

    5. There are many ways to maintain secrecy and still serve. One of the fundamental beauties of the Lodge system is its position between the worlds, half revealed, half concealed, which of course mirrors the human consciousness, where we participate in the exterior world yet are active within the inner worlds. Many Masonic lodges are outwardly active in charitable works and yet are inwardly sealed. The Order in Perth for many years did the same thing. We turned up as a group to tree planting, animal rescue days, emergency situations, etc. No one cared where we were from, just that we were there to help. Secrecy was easily maintained. None of the groups we donated to cared our cheques were from a weird sounding group (an outer name for business and public activities).

    6. As part of our Order’s grade work each member HAS to participate in charity or community work for a set number of hours. It is suggested that the type of work reflects the elemental or planetary basis of the grade, for example, work with the homeless in Zelator. Over the years these hours add up to an impressive amount of time the Order gives to the community and world. It also makes the initiate much less self focused, forcing them outside themselves into the real world where the real initiations occur.

    7. In short, there can be no transformation (of the self) without service. And there can be no service without transformation. The two are inextricably linked. For those who know my blog, please bear with me as I quote here an eternal verity put into words in Malkuth by the sainted Rev. Martin Luther King Jr:

    "We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured."

  12. Care Fra.Peregrin,

    Excellent comments on service, and thank you! I agree with you wholeheartedly, and think it impossible to work through our tradition without developing a heart for service.

    Great quote, as well!



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