Roots of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Sunday, April 26th, 2009 | Rosicrucians

by Terry Melanson (26/4/2009)

The Golden Dawn – of Mathers, Westcott, Crowley fame - has gone Web 2.0.

Some of the most revealing posts on their blogs, are: The Golden and Rosy Cross Worn by International Golden Dawn Imperator, David Griffin; The Red and Golden Cross; and significantly, The Sabbatian Qabalah and its relation to the Golden Dawn.

From Griffin:

I wear a cross of pure 24k gold, enameled red, that derives directly from the 18th Century German Rosicrucian Order known as the Gold und Rosenkreutz. [...] The Gold und Rosenkreutz Order, the Rosicrucian predecessor of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is, in fact, the source of origin of entire grade system of the Golden Dawn, as well as the mystic numbers of the grades, mystic titles, symbols, etc.

From “Sincerus Renatus”:

[...][W]hat we see here is a direct Rosicrucian lineage in the Golden Dawn descending from the Gold und Rosenkreutz order through the Asiatic Brethren and the Frankfurt-am-Main lodge Zur Aufghene Morg[e]nroethe, aka L’Aurore Naissante, aka Chevrah Zerach Bequr Aur in Germany.

In my book over the Bavarian Illuminati it was established that the Gold- und Rosenkreutz [Golden and Rosy Cross] were the enemies of the Illuminati and vice versa. Why? 1) They were competitors for initiates; 2) Illuminati were rationalists and outright worshippers of reason, while the Rosicrucians pursued mysticism and theosophy and indulged in all manner of practical occultism (séances, theurgy, thaumaturgy, astrology, sorcery, kabbalistic magic and alchemy), which the Illuminati frowned upon, to say the least; 3) and the fact that the Rosicrucians were also aligned with the obscurantists of religious orthodoxy, the Jesuits, and recruited members from among its ranks.

A short overview of the “esoteric transmission” from the Golden and Rosy Cross can be had here. The Golden Dawn’s grade system is identical to that of the earlier 18th century secret society, and they benefited from “the entire esoteric corpus of this essential Rosicrucian order.”

The 18th Century Golden and Rosy Cross had a system of nine degrees – juniores, theoretici, oractici, philosophi, minores, majores, adepti, magestri, and magi:

Elaborate initiation ceremonies were used to mark passage from one to another. The order met in circles (Zirkel) composed of a maximum of nine members; each circle included Rosicrucians of various rank, with the chairman (Zirkeldirektor) usually being an adeptus at least. … Several Zirkel were placed under the control of an Oberhauptdirektor. The highest officials were several Grosspriors, the Vizegeneral, the General, and the Magus, though nothing is definitely known about the mode of operation, or even the existence, of top echelons of the Rosicrucian Order (Klaus Epstein, The Genesis of German Conservatism, Princeton University Press, 1966, p. 107).

I don’t think it’s likely that the Golden and Rosy Cross had a membership comparable to that of the Bavarian Illuminati (2,000 to 3,000), however, Epstein, in a note on the same page, mentions a membership estimate claimed for the Rosicrucian order (in 1777) of 909 juniores, 844 theoretici, 833 practici, 822 philosophi, 799 minores, 788 majores, 777 adepti, 77 magistri, and 7 magi.

As mentioned in Illuminati Conspiracy Part Two: Sniffing out Jesuits and documented in my book Perfectibilists, “ex”-Jesuit Ignatius Franciscus Franck [Ignaz Franck] (1725-1795) was not only the persecuting hand against the Illuminati in Bavaria, but he was also the Zirkeldirektor of the Munich Golden and Rosy Cross. Franck, in a letter to his Superior (the Grossprior of the Golden and Rosy Cross of Southern Germany), brags about his successful efforts against the Illuminati – i.e., depriving them of their livelihood and taking pleasure in banishing them from the country, penniless, along with their wives and children. The letter was sent out as an official communiqué to various Zirkel, Sept. 1, 1786, with the following preface:

On where we are currently in Bavaria with regard to the Illuminati, and what course to take, we now have a report from our Director of the Circle in Munich, who plays an important role in [the affairs of] that city … God bless his tough and perilous work; we have supported him as much as possible through our advice, our actions, all kinds of correspondences, and with our fervent prayers… (Perfectibilists, p. 36).

The 18th Century Rosicrucians had established circles in Vienna, Prague, Frankfurt-am-Main, Marburg, Kassel, Hamburg, Sulzbach, Munich, Regensburg and Augsburg, among others. The latter city was also a stronghold of the Jesuits. When their order was nominally abolished in 1773, many of them took refuge in Augsburg and published pamphlets against the Freemasons, the Enlightenment and especially the Illuminati (see R.R. Palmer, The Age of Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800 – II: The Struggle, Princeton University Press, 1970, pp. 452-53). Although documented membership in the Golden and Rosy Cross is fleeting and haphazard at best, the fact that the Jesuits and the Rosicrucians made Augsburg their home – both having pitted themselves against the rationalists and the Illuminati - is significant and warrants a thorough investigation.

The credulousness of those attracted to Rosicrucianism during the 18th Century is well expressed by Johann Christoph Wöllner (1732-1800), an Oberhauptdirektor at the head of an expanse of 26 circles and 200 adepts (and a friend of Ignaz Franck’s). The magisters of the eight degree, Wöllner was convinced, “had the power to hatch chickens out of hard-boiled eggs” (Christopher McIntosh, The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology, and Rituals of an Esoteric Order, Weiser, 1998, p. 72)!

The highest adepts remained hidden from the rank and file; and the magestri and magi, in particular, were elevated to the level of demigods. “Our magi do not carry on ordinary magic,” Epstein quotes from the Golden and Rosy Cross’ statutes:

Our magic is the truly divine magic, which allows us to talk personally with God, as Moses and Isaiah did of old, or to send our messages through spirits which have been purified by the fire of God. We possess the two main secrets of Jehovah, i.e., how to create and destroy all natural matter. We can transform water into blood, as did Moses; we can turn a flourishing city into debris by the sound of trumpets, as did Joshua. We can give commands to the sun, the moon, the stars and the wind, and we can raise men from the dead as did the prophets of old (Epstein, pp. 108-9).

Needless to say, this is obviously the origin of the so-called Secret Chiefs of the Golden Dawn. The Strict Observance of the 18th Century had similar beliefs: they called their invisible masters, Unknown Superiors. And the Mahatmas and the Great White Brotherhood of Theosophy is but a continuance of the doctrine.


In the last blog post mentioned at the beginning, the Sabbatean/Frankist influence upon the Golden Dawn is fleshed out considerably. “Sincerus Renatus” sets out to prove his initial statements, that:

[...] recent research has found that the origins of the Qabalistic tradition of the Golden Dawn has strong Sabbatian connections which probably derives from the Asiatic Brethren, which in turn received its Qabalistic transmission from the peculiar version of Jacob Frank’s Sabbatian Qabalah, centered in Poland. One can easily see a development or lineage here from Isaac Luria, through Sabbatai Zevi (and his prophet Nathan of Gaza) to Jacob Frank. This “lineage”, or rather “esoteric transmission”, continues to this day through the Golden Dawn!

[...] Our Order has evidence in its archives which shows that many concepts and practices within the Golden Dawn have a strikingly Sabbatian resemblance, inherited from the German Rosicrucian movement of the 18th Century, as for example some Golden Dawn wand designs, which according to Mr. Jean-Pascal Ruggiu, was inspired by a Gold- und Rosenkreutz document which, interestingly enough – and I quote – “contains strong Polish Jewish Qabalistic influences, and especially those coming from the school of Sabbatai Zevi”.

…and delivers.

He does spill the beans, so to speak, but stays away from precisely identifying – in operative terms – exactly what was transmitted to the Golden Dawn in regard to the controversial antinomian Sabbatian/Frankist sex rituals.

The work of Gershom Scholem and Jacob Katz has established beyond doubt that Jacob Frank’s nephew and intended successor, Moses Dobruska, was a conduit for authentic Sabbatian/Lurianic Kabbalah via the Asiatic Brethren. Yet in Du Frankisme au Jacobinisme, Scholem writes that before 1780 Dobruska had also become a regular Freemason, as had other members of various Frankist families (p. 28). And on p. 29, he mentions the Golden and Rosy Cross by name – that the Frankists, extravagant Catholic monks (who had much sympathy for the Sabbatians through extensive travel in the Orient), and the adventurers from the Golden and Rosy Cross, got along well because of their shared syncretistic tendencies.

Since we know that Frankists joined Freemasonry proper and belonged to dedicated occult groups such as the Asiatic Brethren, they probably had been initiated into the Golden and Rosy Cross as well. And if you were seriously interested in alchemy during the 18th Century, affiliation with the Rosicrucians was almost required. It is for this reason that I think it’s possible that Jacob Frank himself might have been a member of the Golden and Rosy Cross.

First, some tantalizing clues are found in Kraushar’s Jacob Frank: The End to the Sabbataian Heresy (University Press of America, 2001). Krausar’s book uses standard chronological methodology, and when he discusses Frank’s activities in Brunn (or Brno), Moravia, for the first time in the text we read such things as: “Franks activities involved … alchemy: successfully persuading his followers that there were certain herbs that, when spread over iron, transmuted that metal into gold; also that there was a ‘certain substance’ giving eternal life…” “Before the element of magic was used by Frank in an attempt to practice alchemy for the purpose of creating gold, the master passed for a doctor, restoring health to the sick by the use of means known only to him” (296); “…when he was feeling better, he began to think about ways to locate new sources of income, to create gold through alchemy. He reminded himself how he had toiled over alchemy with Rabbis Issachar and Mordechai…” (303); “he gathered his brothers, and encouraged them to pursue the knowledge of how to make gold … At Frank’s court, there began the preparation of ‘gold drops’ as a medication ‘for all diseases’” (304).

All this takes place while in Brno from the mid-1770s to about 1786. There’s no mention of alchemy or gold-making, before or after. And there was a Golden and Rosy Cross circle in Brno at the time, founded by Count Karl Josef von Salm-Reifferscheidt (1750-1838) at his chateau. Count von Salm was Master of the Lodge Zur aufgehenden Sonne im Orient [The Rising Sun in the Orient] of the Templar Strict Observance, and had been a representative for Austria at the Wilhelmsbad Masonic Congress in 1782.

I have not been able to uncover whether Jacob Frank had been acquainted with either Count von Salm or his circle of Rosicrucians, but the fact that Frank started speaking of alchemy and gold-making during his stay at Brno is significant and worthy of further investigation. That Frank had mentioned toiling over alchemy with Rabbis, does not discount (on the basis that he received this knowledge from them) a connection with the Golden and Rosy. After all, Scholem had specifically mentioned the Frankists and Rosicrucians as getting along well; and though Jews at the time weren’t exactly welcomed into regular Freemasonry, the Rosicrucians can be expected to have actively sought Jewish initiates, Kabbalistic Rabbis, Baal Shem and the like.

In any case, the Sabbatian elements detected in the Golden Dawn teachings probably descend from both the Golden and Rosy Cross and its Dobruska-influenced offshoot, the Asiatic Brethren. Until someone compiles a substantial and authoritative list of definite members of the Golden and Rosy Cross, the precise degree of contact between the Frankists and the Rosicrucians remains a mystery.

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35 Comments to Roots of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

G Weick
April 26, 2009

As an introduction to an intellectual examination of the inter-relationships of spiritual “cornhusks”, this article succeeds. However the author, like the bound prisoner in Plato’s Cave, has made the oft repeated error of mistaking shadows for realities, and thus describes but the dance of phantoms.
To anyone who has pursued a scientific–i.e., objective, empirical, and unprejudiced–investigation of “the mysteries” as preserved and practiced by genuine Cabbalists, Theosophists, Rosecrucians, Gnostics, Alchemists, Yogis, Sufis, etc., the objective is self-realization through self-transformation. Since all of these spiritual pathways demand humility, reverence, and self-honesty, egotism and egotistical display, such as the author describes above in reference to alchemy, are evidence of wayward paths that only lead to egotistical dead-ends of delusion.
The true Alchemist works upon the “base metals” (the chakras, energy centers, or lotus flowers) in himself in order to transform his soul and eventually his physical body into spiritual “gold”. True Alchemy as well as true Rosecrucianism, etc. never had anything to do with outer wealth or self-aggrandizement. It’s ultimate purpose was and is the healing of mankind and that is accomplished through personal self-transformation for the sake of one’s brothers and sisters.

Terry Melanson
April 26, 2009

> transform his soul and
> eventually his physical
> body into spiritual “gold”

Alchemy dogma 101. Silly me, how could I forget? Yawn.

The only time I can stomach a student of the Great Work is when his skills as a scholar far surpasses his esoteric Schwärmerei.

April 26, 2009

I agree with Mr. Weick’s conclusions about the spiritual path. If someone try to enter the spiritual domain there is no need of scholarly credentials.
I appreciate your historical studies a lot but I am sorry to say that you understand absolutely nothing about what is true and living esotericism.

David Edward Garber
April 26, 2009

Thanks again for sharing your ongoing historical research into these matters, Terry. Keep up your great work. :)

The dog
April 27, 2009

Thanks for the article , I’m going to go burn my eyes out with a blow torch set it to a purple flame.

Terry Melanson
April 27, 2009

That may leave a mark.

April 27, 2009

Very good intellectual ”workout”, perfect for Academia… but sadly intellect alone won’t get you there. Just as being an art critic will never make you an artist… Perhaps you have no personal experience of such activities? Well summarised G Weick.

The dog
April 27, 2009

discounted lapel pins for sale .
Can be placed on bags or clothes, or you can stick it in the middle of your forehead . You might need a hammer….

Terry Melanson
April 27, 2009

> Very good intellectual ”workout”,
> perfect for Academia

Great, then take for what it is.

I wasn’t aware I had to use kiddie gloves while venturing into the foundational origins of the Golden Dawn; or that I had to be an adherent and an occult proselytizer just to recount a bit of little-known history. Well, I now know what to expect next time.

> art critic will never make you an artist

If you call that article a critique, you guys are more thin-skinned that I could ever have imagined.

> Perhaps you have no personal
> experience of such activities

I prefer not to muck around with otherworldly powers either for personal advancement, personal gain, to help or destroy, or just for kicks. It’s something most of us intuitively know not to get involved with.

April 27, 2009

‘True’ Rosecrucianism? ‘Genuine’ Cabbalists and Theosophists? Talk about “wayward paths that only lead to egotistical dead-ends of delusion”.

Beware of all the ‘isms’ and ‘ists’ in this world. Many of their foundings anticipated the humble, reverent, and honest seekers of Truth, and serve to distract from its potential discovery; and be careful what you wish for. Even the most sublime ‘alchemical spiritual transformation’ can find you “dancing with phantoms”.

April 27, 2009

Hi All.

From my seven years in the mystery school up to the year 2000, it was the Golden dawn who were around at the final couple of years. It took me a good couple of years to ‘get myself together’, after this journey. I can say with absolute first hand experience…the Golden Dawn and all they represent, is to be avoided at all costs if one wishes to remain balanced.

The sex magic rites used by this order, are very precise and well undertaken. They use this method with great success, given the availability of drugs, but alcohol gives the very same facilitation to their will. But there is more, medication also lowers the frequency enough to give access to these dark energies.

Having completed the seven year initiatory spiritual path, one is able to see and feel their presence, so although the journey was intense to say the least, I have learnt much.

I love the Jesuit connection here in this report, and thank the mind concerned.

If interested, you can follow my journey of exposure in relation to the Golden Dawn, Freemasonry, and many other subjects, as I began to share with the world my experiences during the mystery school journey : under the title,’Democracy’.

If anyone would like to further this conversation please contact me :

st. germainium
April 28, 2009

pure mental masturbation.

Terry Melanson
April 29, 2009

@David Edward Garber

Sorry about the delay in your post. It was put in the spam cue for some reason. Maybe because of the link to geocities in your name.

Shay James
April 30, 2009

This report would be credible if the application of lore & wisdom was indeed all about simple ‘magic’ and waving of wands. The rose Crucifers , like the Sabbatean’s can easy obtain universal truths & relate these to rituals designed to control those who aspire to be initiates. I percieve a metaphysical void therefore behind the writer; as if he or she suspects there is some magic truth out there that can replace years of chakra alignment; disciplined practice and that most essential of all magic ingredients called GRACE. In the 7th chakra state of grace there is relevant truth in all religions and value systems; Including the most laughable of all syllogisms like Theosophy & the Golden Dawn. To those students of mine who ask for a quick ‘fix’ to becoming a master I teach the mantra ‘Owah-Tanah-Siam’…then ask him or her to repeat the sacred words faster and faster until the ‘magic’ happens.

April 30, 2009

This is a fascinating and enjoyable article - and thanks, Terry. We can all learn from thorough and rigorous research such as this. Yet I observe that, as I understand it, Terry’s background is Biblical prophecy. Nothing wrong with this interesting area, either, but is the article perhaps a little “flavoured” by the Christian standpoint? Sorry to point out the obvious but Christianity does not in general like occultism/esotericism/metaphysics. Can we expect objectivity from Christian researchers? I’d be interested to know Terry’s thoughts here.

With respect - thanks again for the very interesting article.

Terry Melanson
April 30, 2009

> I’d be interested to know Terry’s thoughts here.

Sources are cited so that one can check for themselves. Opinions are kept at a bare minimum. There’s no “flavouring” of anything. The only speculation is my feeling that Frank may have been involved with the Rosicrucian circle in Brno - and that is based upon solid historical data.

The 18th Century has become more than just a fascination for me. While recounting the goings-on in that period, my sources are the same as would be consulted by specialists and scholars. Want primo historical info on Kabbalah and Zevi and Frank: start with Scholem (and read his entire output) and perhaps expand with Marsha Schuchard and Allison Coudert. Golden and Rosy Cross and Asiatic Brethren: McIntosh, Epstein, Katz, Faggionato. Bavarian Illuminati: Rene Le Forestier, Hermann Shuettler and Richard van Dulman (as well as your own copy of the “Original Writings” - of course). Occult masonry: Le Forestier and Antoine Faivre, Frick, Ligou, Porset. Les Illumines: Viatte, Clarke Garrett, Ernst Benz and Robert Darnton.

My focus now is on history, sans dogma and sans rhetoric. I am not a “Christian researcher,” nor a “Muslim researcher” nor an “Occultist researcher.” Without a degree, I guess you can’t call me an historian. But what they do, I do (with the exception of peer review). What they consult, I consult. What they deem authoritative, I concur.

My current work speaks for itself - or it should. Take this one for instance. When is the last time you’ve seen an Illuminati article - ostensibly for a general audience - that went to the effort to personally translate and include excerpts from the Original Writings of the Illuminati and French Illuminati expert Le Forestier, while citing Faggionato, and Epstein, even the mere mention of Pawlowski and Schüttler, Reinhard Markner, and Dr. Monika Neugebauer-Wölk? The answer is never (and you probably won’t see it in an academic article in some Journal anytime soon, either).

> Can we expect objectivity
> from Christian researchers?

If they serve up their history in the same manner as I’ve been doing lately - yes. If they don’t preach to you - yes. If they stick to the facts and give sources that are recognized authorities on the subject - yes. If rhetoric and dogma are completely absent - yes.

I don’t have to “like” a subject just to consult and digest authoritative material on it. I don’t “like” the Bavarian Illuminati and their machinations for power, their subversion of society from the inside out, the professed anarchy and proto-communism in the higher degrees. I don’t “like” the Golden and Rosy Cross and their mystical obscurantist con-game. I don’t “like” Sabbatai Zevi nor Jacob Frank and the results of their messianic, revolutionary, antinomian creed.

April 30, 2009

I just wanted to add that it’s important to be mindful of being too carried away with all the ‘esoteria’(not sure if this is a word. I guess it is now) we’ve become familiar with. For example, when speaking of ‘aligning the chakras’, that may be all fine and well, but not if too much emphasis is placed on the whole chakra system in and of itself. Ultimately, I see this system as being the design of a holding containment that suppresses expressions of Consciousness in this particular milieu of existence.

But, we’re knockin’ on the door of Truth by recognizing the ‘position’ of Grace at the crown chakra, as it concerns the fixated condition that individuals have experienced on this Planet. Expressing our Being in a consistent state of Grace that has moved BEYOND the imposture of this virtual reality, and its chakra system, is the true freedom being awakened to.

May 5, 2009

Thanks, Terry, for your trouble - fascinating reply. And I would certainly refer to you as a “historian”, degree/peer reviewed or not!

May 26, 2009

check out what I have been discovering about thomas jefferson and the way he designed the mapping system for the U.S. Many occult and esoteric grops orient their activities and properties in the astrologically significant portion of the grid. T.J. also designed a grid of ley lines connected by monuments that is still being added to. Bohemian Grove and Burning man both use his grid to orient their activities. or check out the survivalcell channel on

June 25, 2009

I thought you might be interested in learning about OUR Jewish traditions which embrace the real Christ. We are the Frankist Association of America. One of our members has a new book out:

These are our teachings passed on through generations. If you can’t afford the book you can see the website of one of our teachers -


Beth El Jacob Frank

Stanley S Steel
August 25, 2009

’cause there ain’t no ping on AboveTopSecret

Terry Melanson
August 25, 2009

Thanks for the heads up.

Masonic Light said:
“I don’t recall Weishaupt mentioning the Rosicrucians, but I would doubt it. Some of the Illuminati’s highest members were also Rosicrucians (Comte St. Germaine, for example).”

St. Germain? He got that disinformation from the Rosicrucians themselves, who love to spin tales about St. Germain. Tell him to take a gander at this.

As for members of the Illuminati also being Rosicrucians, I went over a list of 1000 members one by one last week in order to establish which Illuminati were in fact, as far as we know, Rosicrucians at the same time. The answer is below 20! That’s 2% by any coinservative estimate. As far as those 2% being of a high rank in the Illuminati Karl von Hessen-Kassel is perhaps one, though he wasn’t even on Weishaupt’s Areopagite council. Ferdinand Baader was though, and afterwards became a Rosicrucian. The latter joined the Illuminati in 1778 and the Golden and Rosy Cross in 1784. It seems likely that he was a spy for Weishaupt. Both societies spied on each other, with the Rosicrucians (in Bavarian and Prussia) eventually gaining the upper hand.

Hunter S. Rob
September 6, 2009

Fascinating article and research, as well as responses! This site has kept me thoroughly entertained for hours.

Terry Melanson
September 6, 2009

Glad to oblige!

You might be interested to take a look at these posts as well: “Golden Dawn and conspiracy theories” and “Was Jacob Frank a Rosicrucian?” and comments.

January 26, 2010

why did the rosicrucians allign with jesuits.
I thought rosicrucianism originated from the movement of Frederick V and Elizabeth Stuart seeking the Bohemian Crown and traced its alchemical roots back to the likes of John Dee and Agrippa. Did the jesuits highjacked the thing?

Terry Melanson
January 26, 2010

There’s over a hundred year gap between the original Rosicrucian manifestos (1614) and the order known as the Golden and Rosy Cross (c. 1770 to the 1790s). There’s lots of ground to cover in that interim. What I was talking about here is the Golden and Rosy Cross. To read what they were about consult Epstein, The Genesis of German Conservatism; Christopher McIntosh, The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology, and Rituals of an Esoteric Order and, if you can find it under $1,000, his The Rose Cross and the Age of Reason: Eighteenth-century Rosicrucianism in Central Europe and its relationship to the Enlightenment.

I take it you haven’t read my book. Am I correct? The Jesuit/Rosy Cross connection during the heyday of the Illuminati is fleshed out considerably. The “ex”-Jesuits and the Rosicrucians were allied in their fight to eradicate the Bavarian Illuminati, starting with Ignaz Franck - the main persecutor of the Illuminati who was the confessor to the elector of Bavaria, as well as an “ex”-Jesuit and the head of the Munich Rosicrucians.

Frater WA
February 2, 2010

Hi Terry,
I really enjoy your articles, even if I disagree on some points. I am presently looking for information about the Freemasonic and occult activities of Carl of Hessen-Kassel. Could you suggest any source material. Thanks again.

Terry Melanson
February 2, 2010


Information is sparse and spread out among various works. I always see this one cited (but haven’t read it): Faivre’s “J. C. Lavater, Charles de Hesse et l’École du Nord” in Mystiques, théosophes et illuminés au siècle des Lumières (1976), 175-190. Here’s an excerpt from the bio of Karl in my book (minus italics):

Karl was a zealous occultist, Freemason and Rosicrucian. His entire existence was “occupied almost exclusively with theosophy, alchemy, astrology and other occult sciences.”17 Together with Illuminatus Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick — his masonic confrere — Karl was thoroughly seduced by mysticism and occult extravagance. He eventually came to believe in adepts (such as Swedenborg) who could not only communicate with God directly, but command the forces of nature and of the world of spirits. He was also associated with a vast affiliation of Lodges and diverse Societies, dubbed l’École du Nord, in northern Germany and Denmark. These followers of Louis Claude de Saint-Martin and Martines de Pasqually and Emanuel Swedenborg, claimed to have achieved physical manifestations of the active cause and intelligence; to have succeeded in summoning apparitions of Saint John, and thus awaited his imminent return or second coming; and professed belief in the teachings of Pythagoras and the doctrine of metempsychosis, or the migration of souls.18

L’École du Nord was in large part — as is evident by the beliefs expounded above — following the doctrines and occult techniques of Swedenborg. That Landgrave Karl was indeed a Swedenborgian, is affirmed by Marsha K. Schuchard: “Through the medium of Swedenborgianism and Sabbatian Kabbalism, the rival systems of Sweden and Denmark reached an accommodation in the 1780s. Prince Carl of Hesse-Kassel corresponded with the Swedenborgian Exegetic Society in Stockholm and with the Theosophical Society in London.”19 The “Swedenborgians were believers in divine revelations,” writes historian Friedrich Schlosser. “Swedenborg their chief and founder professed to have received from immediate intercourse with God, with angels, and the souls of the departed. There were some thousands of these Swedenborgians in Sweden, and king Gustavus IV., before he became quite insane, the duke of Südermanland [or Södermanland; he later became King Charles XIII], and prince Charles of Hesse, with Swedenborg, sought the new Jerusalem in the interior of Africa.”20

17. René Le Forestier, Les Illuminés de Bavière et la Franc-Maçonnerie Allemande (Paris 1915), Archè reprint, 2001, p. 212 and n. 2. Le Forestier, however, cites incorrectly his date of birth as well as his death.
18. Ibid., p. 357 and n. 3; cf. Jacques Matter, Saint-Martin, Le Philosophe Inconnu: Sa vie et ses écrits, son maître Martinez et leurs groupes, d’après des documents inédits (Paris 1862), pp. 136, 217-18.
19. Marsha K. Schuchard, “Yeats and the ‘Unknown Superiors’: Swedenborg, Falk, and Cagliostro,” in: Roberts and Ormsby-Lennon (eds.), Secret Texts: The Literature of Secret
Societies, AMS Press, 1995, p. 150. Cf. Samuel Beswick, The Swedenborg Rite and the Great Masonic Leaders of the Eighteenth Century, Kessinger Publishing, 1994, pp. 83-4, who prints a letter from “Charles, Prince de Hesse” in Copenhagen (19 November, 1790), a Brother, to his Brethren in the “Société Exégétique” at Stockholm.
20. Friedrich Christoph Schlosser, History of the eighteenth century and of the nineteenth till the overthrow of the French empire: With particular reference to mental cultivation and progress, Vol. IV (London: 1845), p. 477.

Perhaps the best explication of what he was up to was from the man himself. In 1824 he wrote a little booklet called “La pierre zodiacale du temple de Dendérah.” It can be had through Google books.

Mary Christianson
April 19, 2010

Thanks for sharing your research matters

John E. Reynolds
November 29, 2010

I liked your article. I had presumed the Golden Dawn curriculum came straight from the German Gold and Rosy Cross order, plus some additional research by the higher ranking London members. The complete curriculum of the order in its first 25 years or so of existence can be found at but I found darn little in there about drugs and nothing about sex magic. Their Kabbalistic focus seemed to be on ascending the Tree of Life as far as they could in their current incarnations. Did that come from the Sabbatians?


Terry Melanson
November 29, 2010

The links to the Golden Dawn adept (Tomas Stacewicz aka Sincerus Renatus) at the top of the piece goes into how Frankism and Sabbateanism influenced certain teachings of the Golden Dawn and appendant bodies. He has since gone into more detail as well. I doubt he ruminates on “sex magick” per say, but that such teachings exist in that milieu is well attested to by many. That some of it came from the antimonian doctrines of Frankism (and/or Sababateanism proper), however, is more than just a good guess.

February 23, 2011

Dear Terry,
As an amateur historian myself I really appreciate your work. It’s difficult for people to make a distinction between the practice of religion and the history of it–here I am referring to the Golden Dawn as a type of religion, which I think it has become. So, people assume that everyone is after the same thing they are after such as enlightenment when in fact some people are just after trying to make sense of a very confusing confluence of social currents in these occult revivals of the 18th and 19th Centuries, and none is more confusing than the Golden Dawn. I have read so many books on these occult orders, and yet remain baffled. The Kabbalah connection is very well known, although most orthodox Jews dislike this type of Kabbalah (often called occult qabalah or Christian cabala). But the Jesuit connection is truly intriguing. The Jesuits would have contributed much of the neo-platonism (Bonaventura and Ps Dionysius) as well as angelic magic through Kircher and the angel magic of Trithemius. In the Renaissance was supposedly magic commonly practiced. At some point in all these searches, though, one has to ask: what were these people actually experiencing. So, I’ll read the website mentioned above where someone has gone through the experience. One reason the Golden Dawn is interesting is that it is still with us.

Kevin Davis
October 4, 2011

As a practitioner within the G.D. system in the past, as well as a Freemason, I really enjoy your work and also the fact that you seem very non-biased despite the fact that you are not a practitioner yourself. I wish more “occult” historians would just present the facts without interjecting their personal prejudices. Keep it up!

Kevin Davis
October 4, 2011

P.S.: Regarding the “Secret Chiefs”, have you also taken into account the “Superieurs Inconnus” of the Martinists or those of Baron von Hund and his Rite of the Strict Observance?

Kevin Davis
October 4, 2011

P.P.S.: Ignore my accidental reiteration of von Hund!

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