Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 19, Vol. 2. Autumnal Equinox 2010
The Golden Dawn: The Unpublished Lectures of the Hermetic Order of the A.O. Jack Slater – V.H. Frater V.Q.P. & MacGregor Mathers – G.H. Frater D.D.C.F. Damcar School of Eastern Magic (www.eastern-magic.com). 121 pages. $14.95 USD.
Over the summer a couple of books on the Golden Dawn, and its system of magic, have been released. The Golden Dawn: The Unpublished Lectures of the Hermetic Order of the A.O. being one of them. Within its covers are supposed to be nine papers drawn from the Alpha et Omega, the Golden Dawn Order that Mathers operated after the original GD broke apart in 1903. In addition to these papers, the editor/publisher, a V.H. Frater R.M. has included an introduction and various footnotes throughout the book.
Unpublished Golden Dawn documents! The Holy Grail is to have “new” original documents surface for study and possible expansion of the copious material as published by Regardie, Küntz, Gilbert, Howe, and others. This small volume certainly tempts those people whom are looking to study more in depth. There three papers from the 5=6 grade, one large paper from the rare 6=5 grade, and one large paper from the rarer still 7=4 grade of the Alpha et Omega.
The table of contents for the book lists an Introduction, "Symbology of the Hebrew Letters" (parts 1 & 2), "Apotheosis," "The 48 Angelic Keys: Addendum to the Concourse of Forces," "Analysis on the Enochian Keys: Addendum to the Concourse of Forces," "The Seven Branched Candlestick" (parts 1 &2), "Treatise on Dual Potencies" (part 1 &2), and "The Hermetic Cross & Via Lectea beginning Images Drawn by Jack Slater." This sounds like a lot of interesting material to sink your Golden Dawn teeth into to further your learning and knowledge.
The Introduction by V.H. Frater R.M. explains the reasoning for releasing the documents to the masses, especially to Golden Dawn initiates. I must say that I happen to agree with his sentiments as far as the reasoning – to make more “original” material available to the Golden Dawn initiate and to stimulate new growth.
The book goes directly into the material, starting with "Symbology of the Hebrew Letters" (parts 1 & 2). This document is listed as by Frater Vincit Qui Patitur – or Jack Slater. Actually the majority of the documents in this volume are listed as being by Slater. There are a couple of caveats to this. The majority if not all of the documents presented are indeed from the Slater Collection – this is George H. Slater who was a member of the Alpha et Omega in the New York City AO Thoth-Hermes Temple, and who made copies of his grade material in the 1920’s. Where the name “Jack Slater” comes from on the cover and title page, I do not know. Additionally, Slater, as “Fra. Vincit Qui Patitur,” is the copyist of material given to him by his temple chiefs and Order chiefs, S.L. Mathers in particular; and not the author of the documents as indicated.
The various papers have been re-typeset to be cleaner and more printable. In some cases there are images from the “original” documents of the Slater collection which relate to the document in question. For instance in the Enochian material, this is the Concourse of Forces documents, the editor/publisher has copied and pasted in images of the Enochian Tablets from the copies done by Slater. I might add, that these images are not aligned well and in some cases are cropped a bit too much.
While I can appreciate the need to re-type the “original” material to be more printable, it would have been nice if this material had been laid out in a more “verbatim” and exact duplication of the original versions, which is transcribed more accurately. As to the poor quality of the images and their inclusion in this work, a little more care should have been applied to put out a more professional looking work.
Is this work, The Golden Dawn: The Unpublished Lectures of the Hermetic Order of the A.O. a Holy Grail of information and material that relates to the Golden Dawn? I suppose that depends on the person doing the reading. There certainly are some very good documents in this collection. The papers "Apotheosis" and the "Treatise on Dual Potencies" being the best examples of quality Golden Dawn material from the A.O., and the best examples in this volume. Some of the other material is mislabeled and condensed, rather than being the full version of the document presented. The first example that comes to mind in this book is "Analysis on the Enochian Keys: Addendum to the Concourse of Forces" as it is listed in the table of contents, but when you flip to that document, you find that it is really titled "Analysis on the Enochian Tablet Squares." The reader would have more than likely benefited more from having a transcription of the complete paper rather than a condensed version.
There are many questionably entries in the footnotes as well, which make the scholarly approach that the editor is going for to be somewhat of a jarring experience. Perhaps the editor is not a Golden Dawn person or is not a scholar of esoteric material.
So now the big question – Is this book worth having? In my opinion the book suffers in several key areas, such as scholarly transcription which is verbatim and laid out exactly like the original documents, the attribution of authorship to a copyist, the poor scholarly notations, and the low quality copy and paste (with bad cropping) of some of the original diagrams into the more printable version. If you are into the Golden Dawn, its material, and history, then I suppose that this book would be fine. At least it has an extremely reasonably price tag – about what it would cost to go out to eat at a decent restaurant. In my opinion, there is nothing really new or profound in the majority of the material presented. The "Apotheosis" document and the "Treatise on Dual Potencies" are the best examples of the material, and really may be worth the price of the book to those looking for quality Golden Dawn material to supplement what Regardie and others have already published. Otherwise I would say be wary and take the material as presented, especially the “scholarly” insights, with a healthy dose of salt.