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A Brief Introduction

Hi there!  Let me introduce myself.  I'm known as Brian Northmore to friends and family and by various alternative names and descriptions to oh so many others who shall remain nameless.  Suffice to say, I am the original founder and researcher of all you will find on this incredible site.  Having said that, all that remains now is for me to welcome you to a website designed to cover ALL matters relating to the occult.

You might be interested to know that you are visitor number   site counter   since it was originally uploaded to our server.  If this is your first visit please spend a couple of minutes reading this introduction - it will definitely help you.  Seasoned visitors and/or those experienced in the terminology used in occult circles can take advantage of the links displayed above to go directly to a specific topic as navigation through this site should be relatively straightforward.  However, for those of you not so experienced, or even new to the subject, and because of the vast diversity of topics relating to it which fall into specific categories, it could prove to be daunting and possibly frustrating.  Consequently, in addition to an excellent Site Search facility, we have provided a Site Plan showing the major headings for the various topics discussed within those different categories of the occult.  Our comprehensive Dictionary of Magick and the Occult, which certainly ranks as one of the better ones to be found on the internet based on our own observations and comments from our readers, should help to clarify any terminology about which you are uncertain.  If you are still unsure, don't hesitate to Contact us.  Certain terms applicable to Aleister Crowley's Religion/Philosophy of Thelema may be found in the Glossary of Thelema on our sister site To Mega Therion.  If you are even mildly interested in the life and times of the greatest magician of the 20th century then To Mega Therion is an absolute must - make sure you tell your friends about it!

Two further sections relating to the occult in general follow this brief introduction.  Click on the link provided below to go immediately to that section, or simply scroll down the page until you reach it.


So now to our new visitors ...

... first of all I would like to thank you for visiting this site, which, as you will no doubt have noticed, is one of the very few dedicated to all aspects of the occult.  It may seem at first glance that the site does not get many visitors, so perhaps we should explain that unlike the vast majority of other sites that specialise in the occult (and probably millions relating to other topics), this counter is genuine, i.e. it started at zero registering only one hit per unique IP address as opposed to once (or however many times it is set to) for every visit.

I spent many years researching the occult prior to preparing, then coding (after learning how to code html - the 'language' of the internet) and finally developing the site, as a consequence of which it now contains a vast amount of information, above 138,000 words at the last count, which is clearly far too much to read with just a fleeting glance - check out the Site Plan which will give you some idea of just how big this site is.  It is constantly being revised and updated with subtle changes to individual paragraphs to clarify a point or whole new sections added due to further research and/or experimentation, or new developments, so is certainly well worth visiting on a regular basis.  While you're here, why not take the opportunity to Bookmark this site!  It is because of the time and effort already spent, and that still being spent, that we do mean it when we say, "We really would appreciate any feedback from you with suggestions for other topics to be included on the site through our Contact page."  Similarly, please do not hesitate to send us a query on any matter whatsoever - we will reply as quickly as possible and try to help you to resolve that query.  Alternatively, please notify us of any errors you might notice as you browse the pages (factual - if you have found something which differs from what we have discovered through our own research, grammatical, spelling etc.).  It is only with your help that we can possibly hope to make it one of the most interesting, informative and comprehensive websites covering this complex, varied and intriguing subject.

Every page is completely unbiased in any way, my own beliefs, experiments and experiences remain as such, i.e. my own, and have not influenced anything that has been written, except where I have stated something along the lines, "my own personal opinion is . . . . ".  The site was designed not simply because of my obvious fascination with the occult, but to assist those of you who are curious to learn a little about certain aspects of it, to enable you to read facts and to dispel the myths before making up your own minds about this diverse subject to which, I iterate, I have now devoted many years of research.  Perhaps I should explain that it was only after experiencing numerous unexplained profound psychic phenomena as long ago as 1991 that I got so deeply and seriously involved.  As a result of these experiences I felt obliged to write a book titled The Power of Love (ISBN 0 86332 796 6), and am including a copy of Part Two of Chapter Seven of this book on our 'Aspects of the Occult' CD, which should certainly help to explain why it was absolutely essential for me to discover so much more about this fascinating subject.  Alternatively, the complete book is available on Amazon, where an image (despite what it says) is available - click on it and see.

It is probably worth mentioning that each highlighted link within the pages on this site performs one of three functions:

  1. Clicking on it takes you to a description of the highlighted word in the Dictionary .........., or
  2. hovering over it displays further details relating to the highlighted word .........., or
  3. clicking on it takes you to a completely new page relating to the highlighted word (in some cases this may be one of the main menu items).



We sincerely hope you enjoy what you read and discover!  Should you wish to learn more, much more, why not 'splash out' and spend a couple of quid on our Aspects of the Occult download which contains certainly in excess of 400 eBooks and documents relating to almost every aspect of the occult (including (in)famous authors not listed in the description), plus a copy of each of the poems on the site, by going to the Shopping page?  Not only will you be supporting this important site, you'll be amazed at just how much information relating to all aspects of the occult is contained in this download.  Other items relating to the occult are also available from here.  On the Useful Links page we have provided direct links to various organisations from which you might glean more information on specific topics, plus other sites from which you can download many free scripts, applets etc., to enhance your own site.


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After years of toil and research, having finally completed the impossible, (not the

GREAT WORK

but nevertheless a marvellous achievement in developing a site covering all aspects of the occult in significant depth), I am ready to move on to a new project.  Consequently, this site is now

FOR SALE

in its entirety to the right buyer.  If you have a serious interest in continuing to maintain and update this site, please

Contact me

with your proposal.




So, what is the Occult?

The word 'occult' is a word in very common usage nowadays.  However, it is also a word which has become widely misused, and as a result has become associated with the Black Arts.  As a consequence, it tends to instil revulsion and abject horror in the hearts and minds of the majority of people.  It stems from the Latin word 'occultus', which, in its very basic translation means 'hidden'.  The modern meaning of the word occult is often translated incorrectly in that it is used as a term for secret knowledge or hidden knowledge, in the sense of meaning knowledge meant only for certain people or knowledge that must be kept hidden.  For most practicing occultists, however, it is simply the study of a deeper spiritual ‘reality’ that cannot be understood using pure reason or any of the known physical sciences.  Alternatively, it is the study of Truth, or rather the deeper truth that lies buried beneath the surface.

Thus the occult should be regarded and accepted as an 'interest' or 'activity' which relies upon and uses a 'knowledge', that knowledge normally being inaccessible to, or, at the very least, 'hidden' from the general public (you and I).  Fortunately for all of us, this knowledge will never be lost, because it can be gleaned gradually through commitment and prayer by anyone who is prepared to put in the time and effort.  These aspirants learn how to use their latent talents, talents which lie beyond our normal five senses, to engage with supernatural forces.  A young child uses a sixth sense automatically, but children tend to lose this natural gift as they begin to mature and lose their basic spirituality - or are their spirit guides (their 'strange imaginary friends with whom they converse for hours') simply a figment of their vivid imagination from which they eventually grow out of?  Who knows?  Not you or I, nor the poor child who has not yet learnt to tell the difference between fact and fiction, true spirituality and dogma.

The majority of individuals involved in occult activities view such activities as both mysterious and harmless (unless they are in the minority who have ulterior motives).  At the same time they find it spiritually fascinating and uplifting, whilst gaining a tremendous source of knowledge and potential power.  But opposing the occultist's view, modern Western religions (and others) tend to look upon occultism as being spiritually destructive, totally evil and predominately Satanic.  Perhaps these Western religions with their subservient doctrines, and that other religion which stemmed from Judaism, and whose sole purpose is to dominate the world with its sadistic and even more submissive doctrines, should stop and consider that WE ARE ALL MADE IN GOD'S IMAGE.  Our surgeons who are now repairing irreparable bodies, i.e., bringing people back from the ‘dead’, our scientists who are getting closer to understanding the meaning of ‘I exist, therefore I am’, and our brilliant occultists who have completed the Great Work and who are now communicating with the Divine, are actually carrying out our Creator’s wishes.

Despite the churches' condemnation of the occult, there is an explosion of occultism in our modern world.  In the USA, for example, there are more than 10,000 'Astrologers', and, according to statistics, well in excess of 40,000,000 people consult their horoscopes on a daily basis.  The Satanic Church in San Francisco alone has 8,000 members!  England boasts some 9,000 witches, although this is vastly outnumbered by the known 60,000 in France.  In Latin America there are literally millions of brujos, santeros and mediums.

In Theosophy, a system frequently synonymous with the esoteric philosophy or secret doctrine, the study of genuine occultism signifies penetrating deep into the causal mysteries of universal being, whereas the occult arts, by contrast, include psychism, black magick, hypnotism, psychologisation, and similar uninstructed or even malevolent uses of astral and mental forces.

So having attempted to provide a brief explanation of the true meaning of the word occult, I shall resort to taking the opening lines from Eliphas Lévi’s Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, which says it all:

"Behind the veil of all the hieratic and mystical allegories of ancient doctrines, behind the darkness and strange ordeals of all initiations, under the seal of all sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the crumbling stones of old temples and on the blackened visage of the Assyrian or Egyptian sphinx, in the monstrous or marvellous paintings which interpret to the faithful of India the inspired pages of the Vedas, in the cryptic emblems of our old books on alchemy, in the ceremonies practised at reception by all secret societies, there are found indications of a doctrine which is everywhere the same and everywhere carefully concealed."


Further to the above, for ease of explanation, I have broken down the subject of the occult into four basic aspects, 'Divination', 'Magic' or 'Magick', 'Spiritism' or 'Spiritualism', and 'Kabbalah' (numerous spellings such as Qabalah and Cabala are perfectly acceptable), links to which can be found at the top of the page.  Kabbalah provides us with mystical interpretations of the scriptures and esoteric doctrines about the actual 'being' of God, and has very strong connections to each of the other three aspects of the occult.

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Societies/Organisations to be found in Occultism

The section you are now looking at was an afterthought since designing and publishing this site.  Here you can find details relating to some of the more common and/or renowned occult societies.  I have broken them down into three distinct groups as shown below.  Simply click on one of the links to go to the group or organisation within that group you wish to read about.  Aleister Crowley belonged to three of the organisations listed below, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Astrum Argentum AA and Ordo Templi Orientis.  Our sister site, which specialises in the life and works of Aleister Crowley, To Mega Therion, has a vast amount of information in comparison with what you can read here relating to these organisations.

Two other prominent societies not listed above are the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set as these are shown separately under Satanism.

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Magical Societies & Organisations


  • Astrum Argentum AA

    George Cecil Jones was the man responsible for introducing Aleister Crowley to the Golden Dawn (G.D.) in 1898.  Crowley soon became an ardent supporter of the then leader of the G.D., Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, but for a number of reasons, he lost faith in the order and eventually left.  Crowley decided to form his own replacement order with the intention that it would supersede the G.D., so in 1907, with the help of Jones, he founded the Astrum Argentum (AA).

    When Crowley became the leader of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), it became the outer order of the AA.  The emblem incorporates the symbols of the AA. and the O.T.O.  The outer portion, known as the septagram, is the symbol of the outer order, representing the ceiling of the Vault of the Adepti (5=6 grade, G.D.), and the symbol of Babalon.  Using the Hebrew system of gematria, Babalon enumerates to 156.  Crowley devised a mathematical formula containing seven sevens

    to represent this number.  Babalon is a known holy name of Binah, corresponding with the High Priestess of the Tarot, whose title in Thelemic Tarot decks is 'Priestess of the Silver Star'.

    The structure of this new order was remarkable for its originality, for unlike previous orders which normally followed a lodge system, members were only supposed to know their immediate superior, plus, of course, any people they introduced to the organisation.  While the O.T.O. has received the majority of the publicity as the group that follows the teachings of Thelema, it was primarily designed to be a fraternal organisation (until a member reached the highest degrees), the AA being the primary mode of transmitting Crowley’s magical and mystical techniques and beliefs.

    Unlike the A A, the G.D. was primarily a teaching order, preparing people to do magick in its 'Inner Order'.  The A A, on the other hand, assumed that its members were either already trained or were receiving training from their immediate superior.  After Crowley’s death in 1947, several individuals claimed to continue the order, with some lineages being very clear while others are very much open to debate.

    To read a more detailed description of the Astrum Argentum AA why not visit our sister site To Mega Therion?

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  • Builders of the Adytum (BOTA)

    After being expelled from the Golden Dawn in 1921, Paul Foster Case created the ‘School of Ageless Wisdom’, a venture which failed within a few years.  He then moved to Los Angeles, giving up a successful career as a musician, where he established the Builders of the Adytum (BOTA).

    BOTA is a non-profit, religious organisation dedicated to spiritual attunement through worship in the Tradition of the Western Mysteries.  Its congregation comprises spiritual aspirants who participate through lesson instructions.  "Irrespective of where they may be geographically, they are participating in mystical-esoteric meditational practices which unify them into a powerful metaphysical body of enlightened worship".  There is no charge for any instructions or other benefits BOTA offers its fee-paying members.  The Order’s overheads are supported solely by membership fees, contributions and other donations.

    The name 'Builders of the Adytum' derives from antiquity, Adytum being Greek for Inner Shrine or Holy of Holies, and Builders relates to Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, whom many people are convinced was versed in the Kabbalistic Tradition.  However, BOTA is neither a Christian nor a Jewish organisation.  Although it accepts the Kabbalah as the mystical root of both ancient Judaism and original Christianity, people of all faiths should have no difficulty accepting their teachings if they are mystically inclined.

    The evolution of mankind upon our planet corresponds with the evolution of consciousness, thus, in the natural course of events, all men and women will ultimately be possessed of higher consciousness.  However, before such changes occur in the slow processes of nature, almost inconceivable periods of time will have elapsed.  Speeding up these processes is possible though.  Mankind has been endowed with mental and physical faculties which, with the proper training, enable him to accelerate the evolutionary process.  Mystery Schools, both ancient and modern, are designed to teach initiates how to achieve this.

    The means whereby higher consciousness, or illumination, may be gained includes both theory and practice.  Teachings and practical secrets constitute what is known as Ageless Wisdom, so called because it is not susceptible to the mutations of time.  Ageless Wisdom is "written by God upon the face of nature," and is always there for men and women throughout time to interpret, if they can.

    BOTA claims to be an authentic Mystery School, its system being that of the Western Tradition.  Its teachings, which are based on the Holy Kabbalah and the Sacred Tarot, have been handed down from one group of initiates to another since ancient times, and have met the tests of centuries of practical application.  As such, its Inner Order has had all reference to Enochian Magick removed due to the fact that Case did not fully understand it, and considered it to be demonic rather than angelic.

    BOTA has Study Groups in several cities throughout the world, these groups providing an opportunity to interact with others who share the same spiritual teachings and practices.  In this way they gain mutual benefit from the group work.  Their primary purpose is:

    • to encourage the development of fraternal Love and Harmony
    • to foster the development of consciousness as set forth in the BOTA curriculum
    • to help incorporate the principles of Ageless Wisdom in everyday life
    • to enjoy together the operation of the One Will in all the circumstances of our lives
    • to provide an open door to the Mysteries to all who genuinely seek them

    Much of their work is on the Path of Return, aimed at extending intellectual awareness and understanding into an emotional awareness that can affect all levels of our being.  Group Ritual Work has long been known in the Mystery Schools as a dynamic means of invoking such responses.  Ritualistic work uses this dramatic image-in-motion method to aid aspirants to create the most effective type of symbology.

    The headquarters of BOTA has been in Los Angeles since Case founded it in the 1930’s.  Sunday Services are open to the public, and held at 11 a.m.

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  • Dragon Rouge

    A magical order, also known as Ordo Draconis et Atri Adamantis, Dragon Rouge was founded on New Year's Eve 1989-1990 in Sweden.  It claims in excess of 500 members throughout the world, making it one of the numerically strongest magical organisations in Northern Europe.  It has two lodges in Sweden, one in Italy, one in Germany and yet another in Poland.  There are also ritual groups in other countries such as Argentina and the Czech Republic.  The order is financed by an annual membership fee, and specifically asks for donations.

    It is unusual among magical orders because it focuses specifically on the Left-Hand Path, its most notable competitor being the Temple of Set.  The order conducts ceremonies, works magick together and arranges study evenings inviting guest lecturers.  Members travel to cult sites and power places such as the many Ship Tumuli sites in Sweden or the Externsteine in Detmold, Germany.  For its initiated members, philosophical discussion evenings, dinners and festivities are arranged.

    Note:   Burial grounds.  Traces of aboriginal inhabitants' burial grounds can be found at many locations.  These might be mounds, stone circles, standing stones or insignificant raised pieces of ground.  Sometimes, the graves are in the form of a ship, such as that at Runsa, one of Sweden's best known ship tumuli.  It is 56 metres between prow and stern and dates from 400 - 500 AD.  There are huge burial mounds near Löwenströmska in Runby called 'Zamoras Hill' after the timpanist Zamora, who came to Sweden from North Africa towards the end of the 18th century, and who lived at Runby Nedre farm, now the local heritage centre.  The largest burial ground is to be found at the Stora Wäsby castle dynastic burial ground, featuring approximately 200 beautifully formed grave mounds.

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  • Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

    • What is Hermeticism?

      Hermes Trismegistus could be considered to be the father of Hermeticism, a set of philosophical and religious beliefs.  These beliefs have also had an impact on magick traditions, but whatever their impact, they nevertheless arose from teachings and books accredited to Hermes Trismegistus, who is seen as a wise sage and Egyptian priest, and commonly regarded as synonymous with the Egyptian god Thoth.  Thoth became credited by the ancient Egyptians as the inventor of writing.

      Hermeticism is closely related to occultism, focusing on the concept of God, astrology, alchemy, and theurgy.  The traditional secrecy surrounding Hermetic philosophy gave rise to the term 'hermetically sealed', and many Hermeticists still feel uncomfortable 'throwing their pearls to swine' - Matthew chapter 7: "Don't give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."

      The roots of Hermeticism can be found in Hermetism, but Hermetism's roots are debatable even today.  Some scholars feel that Hermetism is a Greek movement which developed around the time of Christianity, while others, primarily from occult circles, trace Hermetism's roots to Egypt and its mystery schools.  A few others go further and trace it to Atlantis, some of this lost continent's survivors supposedly having handed their wisdom down to the people of Egypt.

    The original 'Order of the Golden Dawn' (G.D.) was founded in London in 1887 as a magical fraternity by Dr William Wynn Westcott, a London physician and coroner.  His partners were another physician, Dr William Robert Woodman, and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers.  All three were Freemasons, although sometime after becoming a member, Mathers became inactive in that field.  Woodman headed a reputable Rosicrucian fellowship, its members being well respected, high ranking Masons in London.  These three founder members were also members of an exclusive lodge, the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA), founded in 1866 by the noted Grand Lodge Freemason Kenneth MacKenzie, author of The Royal Masonic Encyclopaedia.  Members of the SRIA were required to be Christian.

    Westcott, a member of the Theosophical Society, appears to have been the initial driving force behind establishing the Golden Dawn, while Woodman, as Supreme Magus of the SRIA, was probably recruited to lend credibility to the new organisation.  Mathers was an antiquarian, translator and researcher with a talent for composing ritual works and integrating occult symbolism.  He also insisted that women be allowed to participate in the Order in 'equality' with men, a distinctive marked change from the men-only tradition of Masonry.  Unlike the SRIA, the Golden Dawn was open to any man or woman who professed a 'belief in a Supreme Being or Beings'.

    According to its founders, the G.D. was based on a charter from a 'supposedly ancient German Rosicrucian Lodge', which had written a document known as the Cipher Manuscripts, containing a coded record of their secret occult rituals.  Westcott claimed he had acquired these mysterious manuscripts in 1886, from the effects of Reverend A.F.A. Woodford, an elderly Masonic scholar.  They were discovered amongst assorted papers of the Swedenborgian Rite that MacKenzie had bequeathed to Woodford after his death in 1886, which were passed to Westcott, in his capacity as an Officer of the SRIA, by Woodford's widow.

    The Cipher Manuscripts also contained the address of an aged adept, 'Fräulein Sprengel', in Germany, to whom Westcott wrote inquiring about the contents of the papers.  She responded, and after accepting the requests of Westcott and Mathers, issued them with a charter to operate a Lodge of the Order in England.  Westcott's first G.D. Temple was the Isis-Urania Lodge, styled 'No.3'.  Temple No 1 would have been Fraulein Sprengel's lodge, and No 2 was reputedly an abortive attempt at a lodge by some unnamed persons in London.

    Many celebrities belonged to the G.D., including the actress Florence Farr and the Irish revolutionary Maude Gonne.  Some other well known members included Arthur Machen, William Butler Yeats, and Aleister Crowley.  The original Lodge founded in 1888, being more of a philosophical and metaphysical teaching Order, did not teach any magical practices as such, except for basic 'banishing rituals' and meditation.  This was called the 'Outer Order', in which the G.D. existed for four years.  The 'Inner Order', which only became active in 1892, comprised the circle of Adepts who had completed the entire course of study and initiations of the 'Outer Order' contained in the Cipher Manuscripts.  This group became known as the 'Second Order', while the 'Outer Order' became the 'First Order'.

    The three primary Lodges were the original Isis-Urania Temple in London, the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh, and the Ahathoor Temple in Paris, although it is not certain just how many members the Order had in its heyday as some lodges' records were lost or destroyed; estimates range from three to five hundred.  Only a small group, probably between 50 and 70, ever became part of the Second Order.  A few other Temples consisting of small groups were scattered in Europe and America, generally meeting in private homes as opposed to temples.  After Mathers left London in 1894 to live in Paris, his temple there became the nominal centre of the organisation.  Westcott remained in London as Chief Adept in Anglica.

    By the end of the nineteenth century Dr Woodman had died and Dr Westcott had dramatically reduced his participation in official activities after several occult manuscripts of the Order had been left in a London cab in a case showing his address.  These came to the attention of his superiors in the city government, so not wishing any hint of scandal over 'secret occult societies' that had officials of the Crown in their ranks (especially a coroner, who could conceivably cover up a suspicious cause of death), Westcott's employers insisted he disassociate himself with the Order.  Aleister Crowley alleged in his auto-hagiography, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, that Mathers had deliberately planted the documents to force Westcott’s resignation so as to gain complete control of the Order.  There is no actual proof of Mathers' complicity, but the relationship between the two all but ended after this point.  After Westcott left the Order, Florence Farr was appointed Chief Adept in Anglica.

    Mathers was now the only active founding member and, more significantly, in total charge of the Order.  A notable point of interest is that despite Westcott's public resignation, he must have continued in some capacity as several Lodge documents bearing his signature dated years after his 'resignation' still exist.

    To read a more detailed description of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn why not visit our partner site To Mega Therion?

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  • Illuminati

    Common usage of the term ‘Illuminati’ nowadays refers to an alleged shadowy conspiratorial organisation contriving to control world affairs behind the scenes, usually a modern incarnation or ‘continuation’ of the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment secret society.

    The name Illuminati was brought into use in the 14th century by the Brethren of the Free Spirit.  By the 15th century the name was adopted by other enthusiasts claiming that the illuminating light came, not by communication from an authoritative or secret source, but actually from within, as the result of exalted consciousness, or 'enlightenment'.

    'Illuminati' translates to 'enlightened ones', so it is perfectly understandable why several unrelated historical groups have identified themselves as such.  This was often due to claims of their having gnostic texts or other esoteric information in their possession which were not generally available.

    Consequently, the name Illuminati has been applied to many groups, modern and historical, as well as real and fictional.  It is sometimes used synonymously with 'New World Order', but more commonly it refers specifically to the original Bavarian Illuminati.

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  • Illuminates of Thanateros

    In the late 1970s, Ray Sherwin and Peter Carroll, two young British occultists with a particular interest in Ritual Magick, began to publish a magazine titled The New Equinox.  They were both connected with a rapidly growing occult scene developing around 'The Phoenix', a bookstore in London's East End.  By their own accounts, both men became dissatisfied with the state of the magical arts and the deficiencies they saw in occult groups at the time, so in 1978 they published a small announcement in The New Equinox proclaiming the creation of the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT), a new kind of magical order.  It was to be based on a hierarchy of magical ability as opposed to invitation, basically a magical 'meritocracy'.  The new order was to pursue Chaos Magick, focusing on practical skills, and incorporating elements of Thelema, Zos Kia Cultus, shamanism, tantra and Taoism.  IOT refers to the dualism of the gods of Death (Thanatos) and Love (Eros).

    Sherwin and Carroll soon began to publish private monographs detailing their new system of magical practice, some of which had been articles in their magazine, others being intended as instructions to members of the order.  In the 1980s they began to attract a strong following in England, Germany and Austria, including some influential occult writers and practitioners, but before the end of the decade, Sherwin resigned protesting that the IOT was beginning to resemble the hierarchical orders that were once abhorrent to the concept of the order.  Carroll, however, continued and made the IOT known to occultists around the world largely through his books Liber Null and Psychonaut.  Later, Carroll refined the direction of the IOT as a 'real' magical order and manifested it as 'The magical Pact of the IOT', or simply 'The Pact'.

    In the early 1990s this Chaos Magick order suffered badly as a result of the 'Ice Magick Wars' (detailed on many Chaos Magick sites), and several factions broke from the group to form new orders such as the Reformed IOT (RIOT) in Germany, and The AutonomatriX in California.  The IOT had some very powerful initiates within their ranks at many points, one such being the Austrian former lodge, Temple Pleasuredome which operated from 1988 until 1990 when Temple founder Michael DeWitt was excommunicated due to his support for Peter Carroll in these infamous Wars.  Michael DeWitt has long been an innovator in the Austrian magical scene, and even beyond it, his work with the publishing house Edition Ananael and his art work prove this particular point.  He also had several extremely powerful and dangerous rituals.

    Shortly after the Ice Wars, Carroll published Liber Kaos and retired from active participation, stating this was not a consequence of disagreement with the state of 'The Pact' but a matter of his personal development.

    Click HERE to download a copy of The Pact, The Book, The Truth (The Secrets of the Illuminates of Thanateros).

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  • Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.)

    Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) translates into Order of the Temple of the East, or the Order of Oriental Templars.  It is an international fraternal and religious organisation, and was the first organisation to accept the Law of Thelema, expressed as 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law'.  Thelemites believe this Law was established when Aleister Crowley was given the Book of the Law in Cairo in 1904.

    The organisation's structure is similar to that of Freemasonry, with a series of graded initiations.  Its central rite, which is public, is called Liber XV, or the Gnostic Mass.  The O.T.O. also includes the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica or Gnostic Catholic Church, which is the ecclesiastical arm of the Order.  The O.T.O. claims to have in excess of 3000 members scattered throughout 58 countries, approximately 50% of these being in the USA.

    O.T.O. was described by Crowley as the first of the great Old Æon orders to accept The Book of the Law.  The O.T.O. originally begged, stole and borrowed its material from European and irregular U.S. Masonic organisations.  However, while some Masonic symbolism and language is still in use, their context is no longer that of Freemasonry, but of Thelema and its tenets.  The Order offers esoteric instruction by means of dramatic ritual, guidance in a system of illuminated ethics, and fellowship amongst its aspirants to the Great Work.

    The O.T.O. has two distinct areas of ritual activity, firstly initiation into the Mysteries, and secondly, the celebration of Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass.  The Order also organises lectures, classes, social events, theatrical productions and artistic exhibitions.  It publishes books and journals as well as providing instruction in Hermetic science, Yoga, and magick.

    In The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Crowley tells us "The O.T.O. is in possession of one supreme secret.  The whole of its system is directed towards communicating to its members, by progressively plain hints, this all-important instruction.  Of the first set of initiations, the main objects of the instruction are two.  It is firstly necessary to explain the universe and the relations of human life therewith.  Secondly, to instruct every man and woman how best to adapt his or her life to the cosmos and to develop his faculties to the utmost advantage.  I accordingly constructed a series of rituals, Minerval, Man, Magician, Master-Magician, Perfect Magician and Perfect Initiate, which should illustrate the course of human life in its largest philosophical aspect.  The initiation rituals after the V° are such that the candidate is instructed in the value of discretion, loyalty, independence, truthfulness, courage, self-control, indifference to circumstance, impartiality, scepticism, and other virtues, at the same time assisting him to discover for himself the nature of the supreme secret, the proper object of its employment and the best means for insuring success for its use."  My opinion: a more apt word in this final sentence as opposed to discover might be uncover.

    Of the entire system of O.T.O., Crowley wrote "It offers a rational basis for universal brotherhood and for universal religion.  It puts forward a scientific statement which is a summary of all that is at present known about the universe by means of a simple, yet sublime symbolism, artistically arranged.  It also enables each man to discover for himself his personal destiny, indicates the moral and intellectual qualities which he requires in order to fulfil it freely, and finally puts in his hands an unimaginably powerful weapon which he may use to develop in himself every faculty which he may need in his work".

    Initiates graduate through a degree system, similar to that of Freemasonry.  There are 13 numbered degrees and 12 un-numbered.  They are further divided into three grades or 'triads': the Hermit, the Lover, and the Man of Earth.  Admittance to each degree involves an initiation and the swearing of an oath similar to those used in Freemasonry.  The ultimate goal of initiation is 'to instruct the individual by allegory and symbol in the profound mysteries of Nature, and thereby to assist each to discover his or her own true Identity."

    A list of names and addresses of lodges in the UK, along with contact email addresses can be found at OTO Lodges in the UK.  For Lodges elsewhere in the world, go to OTO Lodges Worldwide.

    To read a more detailed description of the Ordo Templi Orientis why not visit our partner site To Mega Therion?

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Rosicrucians

The Rosicrucian greeting is, "May the Roses bloom upon your Cross."

As publicly documented in the early 17th century, the Rosicrucian Order is a legendary and secretive Order, viewed among earlier, and also many modern Rosicrucianists, as an 'Inner Worlds Order', composed of great Adepts.  When compared with human beings, the awareness or consciousness of these Adepts is reputed to be like that of demi-gods.  This so-called College of Invisibles is regarded as the source permanently behind all development of the Rosicrucian movement.

Rosicrucianism has led to several modern societies studying both Rosicrucianism and allied subjects.  However, many researchers on the history of Rosicrucianism argue that modern Rosicrucianists are in no sense directly derived from the 'Brethren of the Rose Cross' of the 17th century, but considered only to be keen followers.  Some have even viewed the 17th century order as a literary hoax or prank, rather than an operative society, while others argue that history shows them to be the genesis of later operative and functional societies.  Rosicrucianism is generally associated with the symbol of the Rose Cross, which is also found in certain rituals beyond 'Craft' or 'Blue Lodge' Freemasonry.

In the 17th century three Rosicrucian Manifestos were published anonymously: Fama Fraternitatis in 1614, Confessio Fraternitatis in 1615 and the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz in 1616.  Together they presented a legend related to a German pilgrim named C.R.C., who was later, in the third Manifesto, introduced as Christian Rosenkreuz.  The legend tells us that this pilgrim studied in the Middle East under various occult masters and founded the Rosicrucian Order, aiming to bring about a 'universal reformation of mankind'.  During his lifetime, the Order was alleged to be very small, consisting of no more than eight members, then after his death, apparently in the 15th century, the Order disappeared, only to be 'reborn' in the early 17th century, at about the time the manifestos were published.

These documents, which like all hermetic and alchemical texts of those times, were full of symbolism and have been interpreted in various ways since their publication.  Although not directly stating Christian Rosenkreuz's year of birth and death, two subtle sentences in the second Manifesto refer to the year 1378 as being the birth year of 'our Christian Father', and they could describe the 106 years of his life, which, by implication, means he died in 1484.

The foundation of the Order can be calculated as having occurred in the year 1407.  However, these numbers (and deduced years) are not taken literally by many students of occultism, and are considered as allegorical and symbolic statements for the understanding of the initiated, the reason for which relies on the Manifestos themselves.  On the one hand, the Rosicrucians clearly adopted, through the Manifestos, the Pythagorean tradition of seeing objects and ideas in terms of their numeric aspects, and, on the other hand, they directly state in the second Manifesto, "We speak unto you by parables, but would willingly bring you to the right, simple, easy and ingenuous exposition, understanding, declaration, and knowledge of all secrets."


  • Servants of the Light

  • Servants of the Light was founded in 1965 by Walter Ernest Butler who received his training in Dion Fortune's Fraternity of Inner Light, which in turn stemmed from The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and was also trained by the psychic Robert King.  Butler served as Director of Studies until his death in 1978 when he was succeeded by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki.  It is a modern-day Western Mystery School teaching the esoteric sciences through correspondence.  These sciences, which really constitute the Yoga of the West, had previously been 'hidden', but nowadays they can be taught more openly.

    The purpose of the Servants of the Light is to assist in spreading esoteric knowledge in an ethical manner to all who want to receive it, irrespective of religious denomination, gender, nationality, race, age, social position or income - all who desire to do so should be able to study the Mysteries.  The primary method for teaching is Hermetic Kabbalah (very difficult to put an actual definition to, but basically non-Jewish Kabbalah).

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  • Theosophical Society

    The original Theosophical Society was an organisation founded in New York City in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Hahn (better known as Madame Blavatsky), Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others, to advance the spiritual doctrines and altruistic living known as Theosophy.  Its initial objective was the investigation, study and explanation of mediumistic phenomena.

    After moving to India, Olcott and Blavatsky also began to study Eastern religions, which were included in the Society's agenda.  Helena Blavatsky died in 1891, and although the Society's leaders seemed to work together amicably enough, it did not last.  William Judge was accused by Olcott and Annie Besant (Author of the society) of forging letters from the Mahatmas, after which he ended his association with them in 1895, taking most of the Society's American section with him.

    The faction led by Olcott and Besant is now based in India and known as the 'Theosophical Society - Adyar', while that led by Judge is known simply as the 'Theosophical Society', but often with the clarifying statement, 'International Headquarters, Pasadena, California'.  A third organisation, the United Lodge of Theosophists or ULT, split from the Theosophical Society in 1909, and various small splinter groups began to form, including the Palmers Green Theosophical Lodge under the leadership of Thomas Neumark-Jones.  While all three of these organisations trace their history back to the founding of the original Society, it can be that the original Society ceased to exist after the 1895 break-up.

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  • Thule Society

    The Thule Society (Thule-Gesellschaft) was founded on 17 August 1918 by Rudolf von Sebottendorff, a very wealthy man and leading occult author, under its original name of 'Studiengruppe für Germanisches Altertum' (Study Group for German Antiquity).  It soon began to distribute anti-republican and anti-Semitic propaganda, then in 1918 Sebottendorff purchased the Münchener Beobachter (The Münich Observer), a weekly newspaper which he quickly transformed into the Thule Society's official and often anti-Semitic publication.

    Although he became the Grand Master of the Bavarian Order, little has actually been written about him, other than that he was a Turkish citizen, claiming to have been adopted.  He was familiar with Sufi and Islamic literature.  Some biographers have written that his real name was Adam Alfred Rudolf Glauer (or Blauer), and that he was also involved in the violent Bavarian political scene as well as in various attempts to market a prototype armoured vehicle or tank.

    The Thule Society was part of the Völkisch Movement in Germany in the early 20th century.  Like many other groups, it sought to find an ethnic and historical identity for Germany, which had only been united since 1871.  Its vessel was the Münchener Beobachter, which later became the Völkischer Beobachter (The People's Observer).  The Thule Society is speculated to be closely connected to the 'Germanenorden' secret society the 'Order of Teutons' (1912).

    The society included members from the top ranks of the Nazi Party, including Rudolf Hess and Alfred Rosenberg, although Adolf Hitler was not a member.  Even so, he received support from the group, and one of its members, Dietrich Eckart, actually coached him on his public speaking skills (Hitler later dedicated Mein Kampf to Eckart).

    A primary focus of Thule-Gesellschaft was a claim concerning the origins of the 'Aryan race'.  'Thule' was a land located by Greco-Roman geographers in the far north.  The society was named after 'Ultima Thule' (translated from Latin into 'most distant Thule') mentioned by the Roman poet Virgil in his epic poem Aeneid, and generally understood to mean Scandinavia.  It is said by Nazi mystics to be the capital of ancient Hyperborea, which places Ultima Thule in the extreme north near Greenland or Iceland.  The Thulists believed in the 'hollow earth' theory, and they had a desire to prove that the Aryan race came from a lost continent, perhaps Atlantis, as one of their goals.  There is even a theory that Adolf Hitler ordered a research journey by Admiral Dönitz of the German submarine fleet to find just such an opening in Antarctica.  During the Nuremberg Trials, Dönitz spoke of "an invisible fortification, in the midst of the eternal ice."

    Close contacts were maintained with followers of Theosophy as well as those of Helena Petrovna Hahn, better known as Helena Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy.  Self-realisation and the supreme position of the human person were essential to the Thulists.

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  • Other Rosicrucian Movements


    • Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC)

      The Ancient Mystical Order Rosæ Crucis (AMORC) is a worldwide mystical, educational, humanitarian and fraternal organisation.  It was founded by Harvey Spencer Lewis in 1915, and membership is open to both sexes of the age of 18 or older.  The organisation neither endorses nor discourages religion, nor does it qualify as a religious movement on its own right.

      AMORC is a worldwide organisation, established in the USA as a non-profit, public benefit corporation, with the specific and primary purpose of advancing the knowledge of its history, principles, and teachings for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes, and is financed mainly through fees paid by its members.  Income is used to pay expenses, develop new programs, expand services, and carry out humanitarian work.

      The name AMORC is an abbreviation for the Latin title 'Antiquus Mysticusque Ordo Rosæ Crucis'.  The organisation's traditional and authentic Latin name is 'Antiquus Arcanus Ordo Rosæ Rubæa et Auræa Crucis' (AAORRAC), which translates to 'Ancient and Secret Order of the Red Rose and the Golden Cross'.

      AMORC claims, as part of its traditional history, that one branch of its teachings originated in the so-called Mystery Schools of Ancient Egypt, these schools being founded in 15th century BC under the reign of the Pharaoh Tuthmosis III.  Students at these facilities studied a wide variety of mystical subjects focusing on the 'mysteries' of the Universe.  One of the most famous pupils (still highly regarded by AMORC) was the Pharaoh Akhenaten, probably best known for instituting one of the world's first monotheistic belief systems.  Other streams of tradition and teachings come from many different areas of the ancient world, and include the ideas of the major philosophers, health, intuition, traditional healing techniques, and the psychic consciousness.

      The organisational headquarters for different jurisdictions of the AMORC are designated 'Grand Lodges', the headquarters for the English speaking Grand Lodge for the Americas being located in California.  All Grand Lodges are governed by The Supreme Grand Lodge of AMORC, which is responsible for the worldwide co-ordination of AMORC aswell as the establishment of new administrations, and the appointment of jurisdictions to Grand Lodges, usually based on language.

      On a local level, members of AMORC tend to form smaller affiliated groups organised as Lodges, Chapters, Pronaoi, or Atrium Groups, these various titles differing according to the regular attending members of each body.  Participation in these groups is optional, and participants retain compulsory membership with their respective Grand Lodge.  Many of these groups charge additional dues to participants to cover expenses such as rent and postage.  Most affiliated bodies of AMORC offer Open Meetings or Lectures to which the general public is invited.

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    • Confraternity of the Rose Cross

      The Confraternity of the Rose Cross (CR+C) is a Rosicrucian organisation founded by former AMORC Imperator Gary L. Stewart in 1996.  Stewart has also founded the Order Militia Crucifera Evangelica and the British Martinist Order.  The CR+C is active in the USA, the UK, Brazil, Australia and several other countries, using the earliest version of the Rosicrucian Monographs as written by Harvey Spencer Lewis, the founder of AMORC, and which were issued by AMORC from 1915 to 1939.

      Imperator Stewart often includes commentaries and, on occasions, additional monographs written by himself.  According to Stewart, these earlier monographs preserve the unique philosophical and spiritual contributions of Harvey Spencer Lewis, many of which had been edited out of the AMORC monographs.

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    • Fraternitas Rosae Crucis

      The Fraternitas Rosae Crucis is a mystical, fraternal Rosicrucian organisation claiming to be the 'authentic' Rosicrucian Fraternity first instituted in Germany in 1614.  At the time of writing its current Supreme Grand Master is William Kracht.

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    • Rosicrucian Fellowship

      The Rosicrucian Fellowship, an International Association of Christian Mystics, was founded by Max Heindel as herald of the Aquarian Age, with the aim of promulgating the Rosicrucian teachings of the Mystery School of the West.  This is an invisible Rosicrucian Order (which, according to Max Heindel, is an Order in the inner worlds formed in the year 1313 and having no direct connection to physical organisations which call themselves by this name).

      The Rosicrucian Fellowship still has no connection with any other organisation, and charges no membership dues or fees.  The aim and thus the work of the fellowship is to spread the gospel and to heal the sick.  This is achieved by making the Western Wisdom Teachings available to all who are willing to receive them, and by providing a Healing Department which emphasises spiritual healing along the principles of right-living.  In addition, it makes the Fellowship books and home study courses available upon request.

      The Rosicrucian Philosophy is Christian, claiming to present the mysteries (esoteric knowledge) of which Christ spoke in Matthew Chapter13, verse 11 and Luke Chapter 8, verse 10.  It seeks to prepare individuals through harmonious development of the mind (occult) and the heart (mystic) in a spirit of unselfish service to mankind and an all-embracing altruism.  Max Heindel states that Christian Rosenkreuz had the mission prepare a new phase of the Christian religion to be used during the coming age now at hand, for as the world and man evolve so also must religion change.

      Correspondence courses include: studies in Esoteric Christian Philosophy using their basic textbook, The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception; a Bible study course which helps to bring a better understanding of the 'satisfying truths' contained in the Bible; and studies in Spiritual Astrology as a key to the Spirit, designed towards spiritual development and self-knowledge, as well as an aid to healing through Astro-Diagnosis.

      One of the basic conditions on which the Western Wisdom Teachings were given to Max Heindel was that no price should be put on them, a condition which was faithfully observed by him and which is still adhered to.  Although the Rosicrucian Fellowship books are sold, the services of their Healing Department, the Correspondence Courses, and the various School activities continue to be offered free.

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    • Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (SRIA)

      The Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia was founded in 1867 AD.  It derived from the Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia (SRIS) following the admission of William James Hughan and Robert Wentworth Little into that order.  These two were advanced quickly in Scotland and granted a warrant to form a Society in England.  The formation meeting took place on 1 June 1867 in Aldermanbury, London, with Frater Little elected Supreme Magus.

      The main stipulations on being a member of this society are:

      • you are a Christian
      • and a Mason

      There are groups (called 'Colleges') in England & Wales, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  There is also a 'Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia' (Scotland).  There are 9 grades in the SRIA, divided thus:

      • First Order (Grades I - IV)
      • Second Order (Grades V, VI and VII)
      • Third Order (Grades VIII and IX)

      with very few members beyond High Council.

      All of the male founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Stella Matutina were originally members of the SRIA, where they gained their initial occult and esoteric learning.  The Stella Matutina was an initiatory Order dedicated to spreading the traditional teachings of the Golden Dawn through the process of initiation.  Between 1900 and 1903, the Outer order of the Stella Matutina was known as 'Mystic Rose' or 'Order of the Mystic Rose in the Outer'.

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Other Societies & Organisations

  • Freemasons

    The Order of the Free and Accepted Masons is one of the largest global secret fraternal societies, originally stemming from medieval stone-crafter guilds, and claiming descent from the builders of King Solomon's Temple.  It was founded on the notion that the architecture of a church (typically King Solomon's Temple) is a metaphor for the architecture of the Soul and man's relationship with God.

    Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation whose individual members are united by shared ideals of both a moral and metaphysical nature and, in most of its branches, by a constitutional declaration of a belief in a Supreme Being.  Organisationally, Freemasonry is governed on a geographical basis by independent, Sovereign Grand Lodges or Grand Orients which may, or may not be in a state of mutual recognition.

    Freemasonry is also an esotericsociety in that certain aspects of its internal work are not generally disclosed to the public.  However, in recent years Freemasons have stated that Freemasonry has become less of a secret society and more of a society with secrets, claiming that most of the secrets of Freemasonry were revealed and have been known to the public since as early as the eighteenth century.  For this and other reasons, most modern Freemasons regard the traditional concern over secrecy as a demonstration of their ability to keep a promise and as a substitute for the organisation's concern over the privacy of their own affairs.  The private aspects of Freemasonry deal with elements of ritual and the modes of recognition amongst members within the ritual.

    Many jurisdictions can be found within Freemasonry, each sovereign and independent of the others, and usually defined according to a national or geographical territory.  No central Masonic organisational structure or authority exists - many practices are determined by Lodge custom, so any general description will most likely be inaccurate in respect of some places.  The authority in Masonic jurisdiction is vested in a Grand Lodge, (a Grand Orient governs the Scottish Rite bodies).  Subject to the size of the Grand Lodge the geographical area of coverage may be sub-divided into Provinces, each governed by a Provincial, District or Metropolitan Grand Lodge.

    The first Grand Lodge in Freemasonry was founded in 1717 when four existing Lodges met at the Goose & Gridiron Alehouse in London to form the governing body.  Throughout the early half of the eighteenth century, a number of other lodges operating in London and in other locations throughout England chose to remain independent from this new Grand Lodge.  These lodges were often called 'St. John lodges', and their members were called 'old Masons', 'Ancients' or 'St. John Masons'.  Five of these independent lodges eventually joined to form a competing Grand Lodge at the Turk's Head Tavern, in Greek Street, Soho, in 1751.

    Members of this second Grand Lodge referred to the older Grand Lodge as the 'Moderns' Grand Lodge claiming that it had broken with a number of traditions and had diverged from the principles of Freemasonry. The new rival Grand Lodge became known as the Ancients Grand Lodge.  The two finally merged in 1813 to become the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), which is now the only regular Craft jurisdiction in England, generally considered to be the oldest Grand Lodge jurisdiction in the world.

    The oldest jurisdiction in Europe, and also the largest jurisdiction in France, the Grand Orient de France (GOdF), was founded in 1728.  At one time UGLE and the GOdF mutually recognised each other, but the majority of English-speaking jurisdictions cut off formal relations with GOdF circa 1877. The Grande Loge Nationale Francaise (GLNF) is the only French Grand Lodge in current regular amity with UGLE and its many concordant jurisdictions worldwide.

    In most Latin countries, the GOdF style of European Continental Freemasonry predominates, although in most of these Latin countries there are also Grand Lodges that are in 'regular amity' with UGLE and the worldwide community of Grand Lodges sharing 'fraternal relations' with UGLE.  The rest of the world, which accounts for the bulk of Freemasonry, tends to follow more closely the UGLE traditions and style, although many minor variations exist.

    Basically, Freemasonry can be said to consist of two different branches, UGLE and concordant tradition of jurisdictions (Grand Lodges) in amity, and the GOdF tradition of jurisdictions (Grand Orients) in amity.

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  • Knights Templar

    How could I possibly ignore this organisation, one of the most famous in history, particularly after all the recent interest generated by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code?

    Pauperes Commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici (Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon) is better known as the Knights Templar, one of the most famous of the Christian military orders, which existed for about two centuries in the Middle Ages, and some say still exists to this day.  Indeed, many of today’s organisations claim links to the Templars.  The Seal of the Knights Templar depicts two knights riding/sharing one horse, which has been interpreted both as a sign of poverty, and as the duality of the monk/soldier.

    The Order of the Knights Templar was founded in Jerusalem in 1118 by nine French Knights:

    • Hughes de Payens (a veteran of the 1st crusade)
    • Geoffrey de St. Omer
    • André de Monthard
    • André de Gundomare
    • Payen (Nivard) de Montdidier (Montdesir)
    • Archambaud de Saint-Aignan
    • Geoffrey Bissor (Bisol)
    • Godefroy
    • Roffal (Roral)

    The Templars were one of two major military religious orders that were set up during this time, the other being the Hospitallers - more below.

    The main purpose of the Templars was to ensure the safety of the large numbers of European pilgrims who flocked towards Jerusalem after its conquest.  It was a most unusual Order because the Templars, besides being soldiers, were primarily monks, thus meaning they were some of the earliest soldier-monks in the Western world.  To begin with the knights, being just the founding nine in number, relied on donations, gifts and handouts for their survival, which explains why they were originally known as the ‘Poor Knights of Christ’.  King Baldwin II of Jerusalem provided them with a headquarters on Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, above what was believed to be the ruins of the Temple of Solomon.  It was from here that the Order took its name of Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.

    Initiation into the Order meant a profound commitment and involved a secret ritual, few details of which were known at the time.  Initiates in the very early days had to be of noble birth and of genuine heritage.  In addition, joining the Order required vows of poverty, chastity, piety and obedience, so those accepted were obliged to sign over all of their assets.

    The Templars were organised as a monastic order, following a Rule created for them by their patron, Bernard of Clairvaux (founder of the Cistercian Order and later canonised), who was also instrumental in obtaining papal recognition of the new order.  Each country had its own Master of the Order for the Templars in that region, and all of them were subordinate to the Grand Master, appointed for life, who oversaw the Order's military efforts in the East, and their financial holdings in the West.

    There were four separate divisions of ‘brothers’ in the Order:

    • the knights – these were equipped as heavy cavalry, and wore a white habit with a red cross.
    • the sergeants (serjens) – these were equipped as light cavalry and drawn from a lower social class than the knights, and wore a brown mantle.
    • the serving brothers (the rural brothers or frères casaliers) – these administered the property of the order, and the frères de métiers, who carried out menial tasks and trades.
    • the chaplains – these were ordained priests who attended to the spiritual needs of the order.

    With the constant high demand for knights, other knights and Fratres conjugate (married brothers) signed up to the Order for specific periods of time.  These wore a black or brown mantle with a red cross to distinguish them from celibate lifetime members, and were not considered to have the same status as their celibate brothers.  It also seems that the serving brothers (frères casaliers and frères de métiers) were not classed much differently from the sergeants, as a sergeant who was a tradesman or who was unable to fight due to age or infirmity would perform these other functions.

    The Order grew rapidly due to the support it received from key church leaders such as its patron, and was exempt from all authority except that of the Pope.  It soon became legendary, its knights being immediately recognisable throughout the Holy Land and Europe wearing a white surcoat with a distinctive red cross emblazoned on the chest as depicted in probably 99.9% of every portrayal we see of crusading knights.

    Because of its official approval, the Order received huge donations of money and land from nobility across Europe who were encouraged to donate as their way of contributing towards the Crusades.  From a combination of these donations and very astute business dealings, the Templars acquired vast tracts of land in Europe and the Middle East.  They built churches and castles, bought farms and vineyards, and were involved in manufacturing, as well as import and export.  The Order even had its own fleet of ships, and for a while owned the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean.

    At any time, each knight had ten people in support positions, some devoted solely to banking and finance as the Order was often entrusted with the safekeeping of precious goods by participants in the Crusades. However, the primary mission of the Knights Templar was warfare, and they fought alongside King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionheart) and King Louis VII of France.  A cardinal rule of the Order was that a knight never surrendered.  This, along with their exceptional training and heavy armament, made the Templars a much feared and truly elite fighting force.

    Although the key mission of the Order was a military one, only a small percentage of its members ever fought; many were involved in developing a financial infrastructure to support the soldiers, as mentioned earlier.  This led to the innovation of several financial practices that could be considered the foundation of banking as we now know it.  They even wrote 'letters of credit' for pilgrims who deposited their valuables with the Order before setting off on the journey to the Holy Land.

    But after Saladin took Jerusalem in July 1187 the Crusades gradually wound down, and European support for the Order began to wane.  In the early 1300s, King Philip IV (Philip the Fair) of France, already heavily in debt to the Templars, desperately needed more money to continue his war with the English.  On this occasion his request for extra funding was not granted, a decision which led to their eventual downfall.

    On Friday 13 October 1307, Philip had all French Templars arrested, charged with heresy, and tortured by the authorities (nominally under the Inquisition) until they 'confessed'.  This course of action released him from his obligation to repay his loans and ‘justified’ his looting of Templar treasuries.

    In 1312, due to public opinion and scandal, and under great pressure exerted by King Philip (who had been responsible for his Papacy), Pope Clement V officially disbanded the Order at the Council of Vienne.  Its lands were supposed to have been ceded to the Hospitallers (see below), but despite this Philip retained many of the Templars' assets in France.  Other European leaders followed his example in an effort to reduce the amount of Church-owned land and property.

    In 1314, two Templar leaders, the last Grand Master Jacques de Molay and Geoffrey de Charnay were burned at the stake by the French authorities after publicly renouncing any guilt.  A plaque to honour the memory of Jacques de Molay can be found in Place du Vert-Gallant, Ile de la Citie, Paris.

    Some Templars, having been arrested and tried under the Papal investigation (with no substantial convictions resulting), would have been absorbed into other military orders such as the Order of Christ in Portugal, the Order of Montesa in Aragon, or the rival Knights Hospitaller (also known as the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta amongst others), its most well known activities in the UK today being based around the St. John Ambulance Service.  Some would have joined contemplative Benedictine and Augustinian Orders, while others returned to secular life with a pension for life.  In some cases they escaped to other territories outside of Papal control such as England and ex-communicated Scotland.

    But questions still remain as to what happened to the hundreds of Templars scattered across Europe, or to the fleet of Templar ships which, according to some historical novels and non-fiction books such as The Holy Blood and Holy Grail, vanished from its harbour at La Rochelle on 13 October 1307?  Similarly, the extensive archives of the Templars, containing detailed records of all of their business holdings and financial transactions, were never found; it is unknown whether it was destroyed or secreted to another location, or if it ever existed in the first place.

    Stories abound that the Templars, forewarned of the impending disaster to their Order, escaped in their fleet stationed at La Rochelle, which would certainly account for its disappearance.  It is speculated that many fled to the West Coast of Scotland where they would be guaranteed sanctuary because of Robert the Bruce’s ex-communication by the Pope.  Some even go so far as to say that these Knights rode in the vanguard of his army and helped to turn the Battle of Bannockburn in Bruce's favour.

    The Roman Catholic Church now admits that the persecution of the Knights Templar was unjust and that there was nothing inherently wrong with the Order or its Rule, claiming that the Pope at the time was severely pressured into suppressing it by the extent of the public scandal and the dominating influence of Philip IV.  In 2002, a copy of the Chinon Parchment was discovered in the Vatican's Secret Archives.  This is a historical document brought to light and made famous by its discoverer, Dr Barbara Frale.  It shows that as early as August 1308 Pope Clement V secretly absolved Jacques de Molay and the rest of the leadership from the charges brought against them by the Inquisition.

    The Order of the Knights Templar has become surrounded by myths and legends concerning secrets and mysteries handed down to its initiates, many of these being centred on the Order's lengthy occupation of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Speculation is still rife concerning the relics the Templars may have found there, such as the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, or fragments of the Cross from Christ's Crucifixion.  Writers have expanded upon the myths through fictional embellishments such as a long hidden treasure, an idea used in The Da Vinci Code.  It is for certain that many more will follow.

    Many of today's organisations claim lineage and traditions from the original Order (the Freemasons**, for instance, began incorporating Templar symbols and rituals in the 1700s) especially in relation to anonymous charity and other good deeds.  Some of these organisations, which may or may not be associated with the Templars, are active within communities throughout the world supporting moral causes such as hospitals and medical centres for the less fortunate members of society.  So, maybe, just maybe, somebody, somewhere in this small world of ours does know a very old secret ……..

    ** One legend tells us that in order to escape from the persecution following the suppression of the Order by Philip IV, a Templar named D'Aumont, accompanied by seven others all disguised as mechanics or Operative Masons, fled to Scotland where they secretly founded another order.  They preserved the name of the Templars as much as possible, as well as honouring the masons in whose clothing they had disguised themselves when they fled, by adopting the name 'Masons' with the word 'Franc', calling themselves 'Franc Masons'.  They did this because the Templars for the most part were Frenchmen, and as the word 'Franc' means both 'French' and 'Free', it seemed appropriate.  Later, on establishing themselves in England, they called themselves Freemasons. As the ancient order had originally been established for the purpose of rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem, the new order maintained their bond of union and preserved the memory and the design of their predecessors by building symbolically spiritual Temples consecrated to Virtue, Truth, and Light, and to the honour of the Grand Architect of the Universe.

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  • Order of Nine Angles

    The Order of Nine Angles (ONA) is a supposed secretive Satanist organisation which has been mentioned in books detailing Satanist and extreme right-wing groups.  The ONA was originally formed in England in the 1960's with the merger of three Neopagan temples called Camlad, The Noctulians, and Temple of the Sun, rising to public note during the 1980s and 1990s.  Since then it is asserted to have ‘gone back to being totally underground, having completed its mission to spread its work’.

    It is alleged that David Myatt took over the order and began writing the now publicly-available teachings of the ONA.  However, many writers claim that Anton Long wrote these tracts, and that David Myatt, who was involved with the neo-Nazi movement in England and now also known as Abdul-Aziz ibn Myatt, is a pseudonym of Anton Long.  The ONA claims that Satanism is a highly individualised quest that aims to create self-excellence and wisdom by undertaking challenges which allow a person to transcend his physical and mental limits.  It is meant to involve the arduous achievement of self-mastery and 'Nietzschean self-overcoming', with an emphasis on individual growth through practical acts of risk, prowess and endurance.  Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) was a German philosopher whose writings included criticisms of religion and morality.

    Rites of passage are often connected to promotion in grade level, and include spending three months living rough in a forest deprived of any human contact, and the assumption of arduous occupations to develop personality and leadership ability.  This is intended to aid in the evolution of the individual: "this new individual will be fierce, free, exult in exploration and discovery and possess an essentially pagan attitude to life.  This, in turn, will lead to the transformation of society into a higher, refined civilisation.”

    The ONA tells us, "Satanism is understood by its genuine adherents as a particular Occult way or method.  That is, it is a specific path or way toward a specific goal, the following of which involves a particular way of living.  The specific path, or 'Left Hand Path', is a dark, sinister one, and the specific goal is the creation of a new type of individual.  On a more general level, Satanism is concerned with changing our evolution and the societies we live in - creating, in fact, a new human species and a civilisation appropriate to the new type of human being."  (Anton Long - Satanism: A Basic Introduction for Prospective Adherents).

    The ONA's writings condone and encourage human sacrifice as a means of eliminating the weak.  Anton Long describes it as, "a contribution to improving the human stock, removing the worthless, the weak, the diseased (in terms of character)".  This ‘culling’ serves not just a Darwinian purpose, but is also connected to the promotion of a new Aeon: "The change that is necessary means that there must be a culling, or many cullings, which remove the worthless and those detrimental to further evolution.  Thus, true Satanism, they assert, requires venturing into the realm of the forbidden and illegal, in order to make contact with the "sphere of acausal, sinister forces of the cosmos.”

    Probably because of the ONA's highly radical stance, there is open animosity between the ONA and what could be described as 'mainstream' Satanists such as the Church of Satan.  The ONA publicly disavows any connection with the Church of Satan, viewing it with contempt and claiming the Satanic Bible to be a 'watered-down philosophy', and shuns the religious type of approach evident in groups such as the Temple of Set.  The Temple of Set denounced the ONA in the early 1980s for its avowal of human sacrifice.

    The ONA now has associates, and groups, in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Russia.

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