What makes a secret society? Do they have to shroud themselves in secrecy or can the secrecy be assumed by all those around them? The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) are pretty open about what they do. They tell you exactly what they practice and how they do it. Are they really a secret society? A look at their history might help.
In 1888 England became the birthplace of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn with the building of the Isis-Urania Temple. Founded by S.L. MacGregor Mathers, William Robert Woodman, and William Wynn Westcott, the Golden Dawn, as it was also known as, began to grow fast with many Freemason and Rosicrucian backgrounds. The Golden Dawn was not quite an offshoot as it was a development from their basic traditions and then expanded upon.
What are they? What do they do? According to the Golden Dawn’s website, their purpose is to promote “philosophical, spiritual, and psychic evolution of humanity” and as “a school and a repository of knowledge, where students learned the principles of occult science and the various elements of western philosophy and magic.” They are pretty straight forward and not inclined to secrecy here.
They fully admit that their traditions and many rituals come from Ancient Egyptian beliefs, traditions of Freemasons and Rosicrucians, beliefs of the Gnostics, Judeo-Christians, and the Ancient Greeks. They promote studies that have foundations in the Qabalah, Enochian magic, skrying, Egpytian magic, inner alchemy, divination, and astrology.
So, what is so secret? At times during their history, they have had and might still have some secret rituals and traditions but they don’t seem to dominate their affairs. Some leadership curriculum has been kept secret until recently as some of it has been released to the order and into the public.
Could it be in the membership? They don’t have their membership list online, but most don’t seem afraid to announce their membership and though many are well-known in their industry or homeland, there are no famous and powerful that would strike fear into the public.
It could very well be their straightforward beliefs. Magic and anything like their own stated curriculum could put the fear into many people. That alone can spark rumors of acts that have yet to be proved. Misinterpretations of their beliefs have let to rumors as well as correct interpretations on acts that society overall does not condone. Few conspiracy theories are reported on them.
The history and current stance of this group has many looking at them as a secret society, but their honesty in their philosophy and purpose make them more of a society that is occult in nature and not ashamed to show the world. How the rest of history will look at them we will have to wait and see.