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by S.L. MacGregor Mathers

Special Notation - This particular paper written by S.L. MacGregor Mathers, Founder of the original Golden Dawn and the American temples that sprang forth therefrom, was provided to all aspirants seeking information and truth. It was originally published in New York in 1917 in a magazine called Azoth. This paper's goal was to bring an increase of membership to the American branches of the Golden Dawn, and Alpha et Omega ("Morning Star").

The constant and unauthorized use of the title Rosicrucian by imposters of every kind, with the idea of thus filling their own pockets at the expense of those of the general public whom they may thus succeed in beguiling, has at length reached the proportions of a veritable nuisance. That is why I am writing this article as the External Head of the True Order.

We are a secret Order, pursuing our studies in secret, and our Neophytes must be prepared not only to take, but also to keep a most solemn Oath of Secrecy as to our Rituals, Ceremonies, and Formulas, in which, however, there is nothing contrary to the civil, moral, or religious duties of the aspirant, also there is nothing to shock her or his self-respect. The grades follow in succession like the rungs of a ladder, or the steps of a staircase, each with its particular studies, its rituals, ceremonies and formulas, and its own particular Obligation of Secrecy.

I have no doubt that at this point many of the readers of this article will at once say: "What is the use of all this secrecy and mystery; we Americans like truth and frankness and everything above board, etc., etc."

Now not alone does this attitude of mind render it more easy for the imposters to thrive at your expense, pretending to teach and reveal things which they never knew, but also it is apt to foster the idea that True Wisdom, that is to say the Occult Science of the Whole Universe can be easily fathomed and comprehended with little or no trouble! A state of ignorant arrogance of mind closely akin to, only far exceeding that of the man who is supposed to have said that he could play the violin quite well at first attempt although he had never learned it! The human mind is far too influenced by the conceit that it is in a position to criticize anything, no matter how much larger and greater than itself; even the universal All and the ways of the Great Creator thereof, and attitude too much fostered by the teachings of the so-called Theosophy of the Present Day. There are several potent reasons for the practice of secrecy in the Mystic Studies and the Contemplations of our Order; foremost among which may be cited the importance of not placing in the hands of the multitude the knowledge of formulae which may be used for evil as well as for good, and this without any control. Again, Truths which at best can only partially comprehended by those receiving them, owning to the lack of properly trained preparation become but pseudo-truths and consequently False Formulae, necessarily the more misleading and dangerous to a narrow and conceited metal scope of assimilation.

Our Principal Objects of Study may be considered to include the acquirement of that Great Occult Wisdom, chiefly derived from Ancient Egyptian and Chaldean, which treats of God and of the Gods, of Spiritual Beings and Races, of the Secret Forces existing in Nature, of Life, of Death, of our Mystic Environment, etc.

Every student set to solve a mathematical problem, learns that the first step is the stating in exact mathematical terms his or her exact extent of ignorance of the result to be attained. How many Occult Students are there, who ever think of applying this procedure to the attempt to solve the far graver problems of Occult Wisdom? Probably none. They find it on the contrary much easier to throw the onus of their probable errors on to supposititious Mahatmas, brain-waves, impulses sent from suppositious "Grand Lodge" of "Masters," and what not At times these theories seem to work, and at other times they don't. It matter little, for the responsibility is thus duly accounted for! I do not say that certain Secret Chiefs and Masers do not exist, but what I do say is that an incalculable amount of nonsensical rubbish has been promulgated concerning them; even to the point of asserting that our Great and Ancient Order (essentially rather Western than Eastern in its nature) is under the control of the (Eastern) Theosophical Mahatmas, the which is a most utterly false a impertinent statement!

We have a profound respect for Christianity, and are in no sense hostile to the Roman Catholic Church, nor yet to the other forms of Christian belief, provided that on the more Unitarian side they do not too far gravitate towards Atheism. And we especially consider the Roman Catholic Church has resolutely preserved in its Ceremonies the August Symbols of the Divine Wisdom.

In our preliminary work we encourage our members rather to study the Greater World, than themselves who are the Lesser World, so as to counteract the natural tendency to become too self-centered, and to exalt the self at the expense of the Universal Nature.

We only consider the question of re-incarnation later, and then in a far more exceptional, restricted, and different sense to that given to it by the ordinary Out Occultists of today.

Possessing as we do the True Knowledge of the Races of the Elements we consider most of the ideas promulgated concerning them as erroneous and misleading.

We are not opposed to Religions other then the Christian, to which the early Egyptian Religion, long before the time of Moses, very closely approached, and among us are Members of many different Religions. Neither do we consider ourselves only beholden to the Mediaeval Branch of our Order established in Germany, for our Secret Knowledge; we consider it simply as a Branch of our Order and no more.

Paris, December, 1916.