An Outline of My New Thesis: The Nature, Structure, and Purpose of the Soul in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

This is a rough draft that I sat down and outlined over the last hour. Parts of it are still missing but it gives an idea of where I am going currently. I’ve shifted my emphasis over to the Golden Dawn’s conception of the Soul. The hardest part is the abstract or “Why should anyone reading this care?” for discussing it.

The Nature, Structure, and Purpose of the Soul in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn


The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is the name popularily given to a late Victorian, pseudo-masonic fraternal order which developed in England in the last two decades of the 19th century. This organization has had a preeminent role in alternative or esoteric spirituality that persists to the current day. The Golden Dawn developed a new synthesis of the earlier esoteric traditions prevalent in Western Europe from the Middle Ages through to its era. It drew from existing traditions of Rosicrucianism, Kabbalah, and Esoteric Christianity as well as the popular conceptons of Gnosticism and Egyptian religion. As part of their synthesis of these traditions, the creators of the Golden Dawn constructed a unique vision of the individual soul and its relation to the universe. This vision drew on Christian visions of the Fall and Redemption as well as elements of Jewish Kabbalah, Victorian understandings of Eyptian mythology, and Renaissance Neoplatonism. The destiny of the individual human soul was connected directly with the ultimate purpose of the Cosmos in the mythology of the Golden Dawn. This created a system of belief that was more than simply a superficial amalagation of disparate parts or traditions and elevated it to unified spiritual vision which informed the spiritual work of its adherents. This vision of human destiny gives the Golden Dawn’s teaching a relevance with the realm of world spiritual traditions. In addition, the Golden Dawn’s work has an impact that still informs individuals and spiritual movements today, such as the modern Neopagan movement and Western Esoteric traditions whose work is derived directly from that of the Golden Dawn.


  1. What is Western Esotericism?
  2. What was the Golden Dawn?
    • Who were its creators?
    • An overview of its founding and history
    • Its influence on other groups and individuals over the years
  3. The Microcosm: the nature and structure of the soul in Golden Dawn texts
    • Golden Dawn ritual lectures
    • Degree papers
    • Flying Rolls
    • Letters or other texts by Mathers, Westcott, Yeats, or others
  4. The unique features of the soul within the Golden Dawn
    • The Soul and the Tree of Life projected onto a Sphere
    • The Sphere of Sensation
    • The role of these features in the magic of the Golden Dawn (specific examples)
    • An overview from all of these of the components and nature of the soul
  5. The origin or influences upon the Golden Dawn's conception of the Soul
    • Jewish Kabbalistic Influences
    • Neoplatonism
    • The Corpus Hermeticum
    • The Egyptian Book of the Dead
    • The Greek Magical Papyri (PGM)
    • Christianity
  6. The Macrocosm: other souls (the World Soul, etc.) and their relationship with the individual soul
  7. The ultimate goal or purpose of the soul within the Golden Dawn
    • Fall and Redemption in the Golden Dawn rituals
    • The Path of Return
  8. Influences on later esoteric organizations and popular movement
    • Aleister Crowley and Thelema
    • Gerald Gardner and Wicca
    • L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology
    • My Mom
  9. Final Conclusions

Any comments, suggestions, things missing, etc. would be welcomed.