THE CONSTITUTION OF THE WITCHES’ ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN
MUTIFER AND S.R.E.S.
1. TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
The W.O.G.D. was founded in part as an acknowledgment that the learning styles which work for magical practitioners are very diverse. Witchcraft has been passed down primarily as an oral tradition, with teaching and learning being very freeform, often without any specific curriculum. Ceremonial magic has traditionally been conducted in a much more academic style, with extremely didactic teaching and learning approaches being adopted by teaching orders.
Consequently, ‘witchy’ people tend to drift toward witchcraft because the teaching and learning styles suit them. ‘Magiciany’ people, who are more naturally aligned to didactic methods of teaching and learning, tend toward traditional magical Orders with a strict Lodge structure, curriculum and system of advancement based upon passing of examinations. More accomplished magicians often seek teaching from witches, because this provides a balance that is missing from a practice based solely upon ceremonial magic. Though magicians can find learning to work more intuitively, in a freeform environment, difficult at first, we of the W.O.G.D. acknowledge the benefits of such an approach. Witchcraft can, of course, be taught and learned didactically, if both the teacher and student accommodate this. However, for a witch to study ceremonial magic, this can be a difficult path. Most Orders have a rigid approach to teaching and learning, and will typically not vary their approach, and consequently they tend to disenfranchise students who are willing, capable and talented, but who are not didactic learners.
The Witches’ Order of the Golden Dawn is a redaction of the original Golden Dawn system, based closely on the version of the rituals handed down via the Cypher Manuscripts and by Israel Regardie. In ritual terms, we remain faithful to the Current. (As used here, the term ‘Current’ refers to the flow of magical energy which stems from the egregore / thought-form of the Golden Dawn tradition.) We differ considerably, however, in terms of the way we teach and learn. Our model is based on the way that many martial arts are taught, particularly budo taijutsu, more commonly known as ninjutsu. Our approach is summarised as follows:
- We do not require examinations or conversations before advancements may be given.
- Material from our curriculum may be studied in any order, at any time, in a manner that is suited to the learning style of the Aspirant.
- We do not mandate minimum time periods between advancements.
- We regard no material whatsoever as being above someone’s grade. Anyone may study anything they wish, and they are encouraged to learn by working magic rather than by academic study alone.
- We work in cycles. Anyone may attend any Hall, regardless of its grade relative to their own, including workings of the Second Order. Most Halls will involve at least one advancement. On reaching 5 = 6 Adeptus Minor for the first time, the aspirant is regarded as Neophyte Adeptus Minor, whereupon they begin again, starting their next cycle at 0 = 0 Neophyte. At their second 5 = 6, they are known as Zelator Adeptus Minor, and so on. As with ninjutsu, it is expected that each time around the cycle, the material is understood more deeply.
We are witches. We are practicing the Golden Dawn system of magic, as witches. The W.O.G.D. is the embodiment of this, and we make no apology for the changes that we have made, mindful that many will regard them as heretical.
The original Golden Dawn, highly unusually for a magical Order of their time, always admitted men and women equally. At the time of the founding of the W.O.G.D., however, best practices have moved on. We have carefully redacted our ritual scripts to avoid use of gendered language except in relatively few cases where deities, spirits, angels or other supernatural beings that are typically ascribed a gender are being referred to.
Most notably, we do not use Frater and Soror when referring to our members, preferring instead Collega (literal, ‘colleague’) as a non-gendered alternative. We use Collega in the singular and Collegae in the plural.
3. ADOPTION OF WITCHES’ DEITIES RATHER THAN THE STANDARD GOLDEN DAWN GOD-FORMS
Since we are witches, we tend to prefer to deal with the deities of our choice. Choosing gods and spirits to aid us and guard our spaces is a personal act and choice, so we extend this practice of witchcraft into the practice of the W.O.G.D.
4. ASPECTING OF OFFICERS
A traditional Golden Dawn Temple in the outer typically has a number of (usually up to 11) floor officers who retain their office for a period of six months, optionally changing at the equinoxes. Second Order offices are usually held for longer, changing over no more than once a year.
We acknowledge that many magical groups have ended badly, in many cases as a consequence of battles of ego, or battles over control. In order to work against this, and in order to bring our Golden Dawn practice closer to that typically adopted by witches, we choose not to have any permanent officer roles, either in the First or Second Orders.
We expect that all our participants are capable of reading a script and working magic without too much preparation, as is typical of witches. Consequently, officer roles are decided based on who happens to show up, and may be decided by agreement or by lot, as preferred. There is no requirement to be of a particular grade in order to take on an officer role. We are witches. Witches should be able to cope with aspecting an Officer-form drawn from the egregore of the Golden Dawn.
Similarly, our order has no Chief Adept, Second Adept or Third Adept, or any other permanent office of the Second Order. These offices are agreed upon or drawn by lot as necessary, and aspected for the duration of a Hall or Vault opening only.
5. PRACTICE OF GOETIC SORCERY, ENOCHIAN MAGIC, &C
Many Golden Dawn orders prohibit, or at least persuade against, Outer Order members from practicing practical magic, particular that of the kind that is regarded as nontrivial. The W.O.G.D. suggests the opposite – we ourselves work this magic, and we acknowledge the benefits that this has brought us. Aspirants are encouraged to learn by doing – since we cater most specifically to kinaesthetic learners, we acknowledge that this approach is both necessary and appropriate.
Our mother Lodge, The Temple of Buer, has a Goetic Dæmon as its Patron, and has a number of familiars as Guardians.
6. RADICAL INCLUSION
The Witches’ Order of the Golden Dawn is a radically inclusive organization. We will never turn anyone away on the basis of their gender, gender identity, sexual or affectional orientation, race, religion, disability, age, size, or any other marker or absence thereof that is not relevant to their ability to practice magic.
The Witches’ Order of the Golden Dawn acknowledges that all truth is relative, and that truth may only be determined relative to the axioms adopted by the beholder. Furthermore, we acknowledge that anyone may hold any axioms they please, which may change over time, and that these axioms may or may not be self-consistent or compatible with those of our Order. Where conflicts arise, we endeavour to always seek the compromise that leads to the greatest compassion and that minimizes harm to all beings.
We acknowledge that our approach to Golden Dawn is heretical. We make no apology for our practices, and seek no forgiveness.
9. OPEN SOURCE
The Current of The Witches’ Order of the Golden Dawn is formally a fork of the original Current of the Golden Dawn. Our rituals are published for all to use and to modify as they see fit under a Creative Commons license.
Anyone wishing to start a Lodge of the Witches’ Order of the Golden Dawn need only to fork our rituals and get to work.* If you make useful changes, corrections or additions, patches are encouraged but not required.
* Information about sources are as of yet pending…
10. NOT-FOR-PROFIT POLICY
The Witches’ Order of the Golden Dawn exists for the benefit of its membership and for the benefit of all beings. As such, it is founded on the basis of never charging for membership, participation or initiation. Contributions in kind from individual members for the collective good of the Order are encouraged but never required.
11. JESUS AND Y.H.V.H.
Witches traditionally have a poor relationship with Christianity. Though some are ‘dual citizens,’ practicing both witchcraft and some form of Christianity, many, suffering church burn from bad prior experiences, prefer to have nothing to do with Christianity.
The Golden Dawn system, as originally practiced, was without question some kind of Christian. It used Christian symbolism extensively, and in many rituals called upon Y.H.V.H. and Jesus directly. Though there are references to a ‘one true God,’ Golden Dawn nevertheless also called upon a menagerie of gods and spirits from many pantheons. Consequently, we conclude that the Golden Dawn system is inherently polytheistic. Applying principles of metafaith, we have redacted the rituals such that they retain their association with Jesus and Y.H.V.H., but we have removed any machinery that is in conflict with an underlying polytheistic world-view.
Applying for membership to W.O.G.D. must take place on the understanding that we do work with Jesus and Y.H.V.H., but that we do not regard Y.H.V.H. and/or Jesus as A One True God.
12. STREAMLINED CURRICULUM
Our curriculum may be studied at any time in any order regardless of grade. We do not, as the original Golden Dawn did, require specific study between specific grades, though Aspirants are encouraged to study and understand the symbolism of the advancements that they undertake.
We have no examinations or conversations with a Præmonstrator. Witches are sovereign individuals, beholden only to themselves and to their Deities. It is not for us to judge them.
We claim no specific lineage to or from any other Order. We hold that the magic stands as quite adequate in its own right, and does not require lineage in order for it to be enabled.
Nevertheless, the W.O.G.D. carries the lineage of all of its participants, and that of no others. By its cyclic nature, such lineage is naturally shared and emboldened.
Since anyone may fork our Current at any time and for any reason, and that anyone may take any officer role regardless of relative grade, it follows that anyone may choose to create their own Order of One, and initiate themselves. Our rituals will require a little redaction, but all other than possibly the 5 = 6 Adeptus Minor can be carried out solo with little modification.
15. WORKING WITH REDUCED TEAMS
Finding enough people to fill a complete set of floor officer roles, particularly for rituals like the 0 = 0 Hall of the Neophytes, is acknowledged to be difficult. We therefore extend the concept that anyone may take on any officer role regard- less of relative grade to also allow anyone to take on more than one officer role concurrently.
Typically, more people make it easier to work the rituals, but all of our Outer Order rituals can be worked effectively with 2 or 3 people. The 5 = 6 Adeptus Minor ritual as written is difficult to work with fewer than 4 people, however.
We encourage all Aspirants to make their own magical tools wherever practical. Toolmaking is an initiatory act, particularly for the kinaesthetic learner, and is recommended to all our members. Tools include wands, banners, Enochian tablets, portal plaques, admission badges, sashes, robes, altars and generally any implements and/or set dressing which may be called for in the ritual scripts. It is preferable to work these rituals with, for example, a simple hand-drawn representation of a wand rather than to go without that particular wand at all. This sort of “paper Temple” methodology was suggested in the Cicero’s Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition and works well with the intuitive types of magic practiced by many witches.
The W.O.G.D. holds certain things to be private, such as its membership list. However, we believe that nothing needs to be kept secret in order for it to be held sacred. At no time is any Aspirant asked to take a vow of secrecy, either related to their membership in the Outer or Inner Orders.
Since the W.O.G.D. has no permanent Officers or Chiefs, all such roles being purely ceremonial, governance of the Order is carried out by consensus. If for any reason consensus can not be reached, decisions can be made by vote based on the following procedure:
- Any member may call a General Meeting, to be convened as soon as practical in a time and place that makes it possible for the majority of the membership to be present.
- The member then presents their Motion, which is to be debated.
- If consensus is not then reached, a Vote is called.
- For any Motion related to minor scheduling or general day to day operation of the Order, a majority of at least 50% is required in order for the Motion to be passed. Major issues that involve changing the way the Order operates, expulsion of a member, or that require alteration of the Order’s Constitution, require a majority of 75%.
19. APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP
The W.O.G.D. has a Virtual Cancellarius, a voluntary role that is analogous to that of a membership secretary. To join the W.O.G.D., the following procedure is followed:
- Applicant writes to the Virtual Cancellarius requesting membership.
- The Virtual Cancellarius convenes a Membership Meeting, normally convened somewhere other than the Temple, allowing members to get to know the Applicant.
- Unless any member shows just cause why the Applicant should not be admitted, the Applicant is then invited to visit a Lodge meeting. This allows the Applicant to get a feel for what we do, and for more of our members to get to know them.
- Our membership is then informally polled. If there are no objections, and if the Applicant still wills it, they are then invited for initiation to the 0 = 0 Neophyte Grade.
Unsuccessful applicants should not normally be turned away entirely – rather, it should be suggested that membership is not appropriate for them at this time, and that they may wish to reapply at some time in the future.
In extreme circumstances, it is acknowledged that it may be necessary to terminate someone’s membership in the Order. Normally, this should require consensus of all remaining members, but as specified above a 75% majority vote may substitute for consensus.
Expulsion should not be used in the first instance, except in dire circumstances. It is always preferable to find a greater compassion that minimises harm to the Order whilst allowing someone to retain their membership.
Expelled members are welcome to reapply if the circumstances that led to their expulsion have changed.
Any member may choose to demit from the Order for a period of time or indefinitely. A member who has demitted would normally be removed from the Order’s membership roll, mailing lists, &c., and would no longer be eligible to vote.
A member who has demitted may choose to reactivate their membership at any time by writing to the Virtual Cancellarius.
Any member may choose at any time to resign indefinitely from the Order. Though normally anyone choosing to resign would be counselled to demit instead, resignation is analogous to expulsion in that a member that has resigned who wishes to return must begin the membership process as if they had never had any previous connection with the Order.
Anyone may fork our Current at any time and for any reason. Consequently, any member of W.O.G.D. who wills it may choose to start another Order. There is no requirement that they resign or demit in order to do so, and normally this act would be encouraged with the blessing of the membership.