From the Kabalistic Order of the Rosy-Cross to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Joséphin Péladan (1858-1918) was born into a Lyon family that was devoutly Roman Catholic. He moved to Paris and became a literary and art critic, writing on L’Artiste. In 1884 he published his first novel, Le vice suprême, an instant success with the French public, which was into a revived interest in spirituality and mysticism. The Péladan’s book was influenced by occult teachings of Eliphas Lévi.
The novel went through several printings. After reading this book, poet Stanislas de Guaita became manifested interest in the occult doctrine, and soon De Guaita and Péladan became acquainted. They recruited Gérard Encausse, a Spanish-born French physician and occultist who had written books on magic. In 1888, De Guaita founded the Cabalistic Order of the Rosicrucian.
Anyway, by the 1890s, De Guaita’s, Papus’ and Péladan’s collaboration became increasingly strained by disagreements over strategy and doctrines. In June 1890, Péladan left the Martinist Order and created a heavy Catholic influenced Mystic Order of the Rose + Cross, with position in favour of tradition and hierarchy, and against new trends in French art, like the Impressionists, with preference for the Symbolist artists.
Stanislas de Guaita was a poet. Into the Rosicrucian Order, Guaita provided training in the Cabala magic, and the “hidden sciences”, being nicknamed “Prince of the Rosicrucians” by his contemporaries. In the late 1880s, the Abbé Boullan, a defrocked Catholic Priest and the head of a schismatic branch called the “Church of the Carmel” led a “magical war” against de Guaita. French novelist Joris K. Huysmans, a supporter of Boullan, portrayed de Guaita as a Satanic sorcerer in the novel La Bas. All these noises are tha causes of the 1890s crisis in de Guaita’s, Papus’ and Péladan’s collaboration. Under his guide Oswald Wirth created a cartomantic Tarot consisting only of the twenty-two major arcana, which followed the designs of the Tarot de Marseille, incorporating extant occult symbolism into the cards. The Wirth/De Guaita deck can be considered the first didactic desk. Wirth published also three books each explaining one of Freemasonry’s first three degrees, under the title “La Franc-Maçonnerie rendue intelligible à ses adeptes”, demonstrating that the custom to practice something that is not understood is a very old story. De Guaita was not on this number. A very fine student of Eliphas Levi’s discoveries, in the famous “La Clef de la Magie Noire” there is the original drawing of an inverted pentagram with a goat’s head. The book was published in 1897, the year he died. He was 36.
Gérard Encausse received his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1894 upon submitting a dissertation on Philosophical Anatomy. Encausse’s pseudonym “Papus” was taken from the “Nuctemeron of Appolonius of Tyana” , which was published as a supplement to Eliphas Levi’s “Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie”. “Papus” means “Physician” (of the first hour), after the Egyptian genii of the healing arts. In 1888, he was among the founders of the Kabbalistic Order of the Rose-Croix. That same year, he and his friend Lucien Chamuel (pseudonym of Lucien Mauchiel) opened the Librarie du Merveilleux and its monthly revues L’Initiation et Le voile d’Isis, which remained in publication until 1914. Encausse was also a member of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn temple in Paris, as well as Memphis-Misraim and probably other esoteric or paramasonic organizations, as well as being an author of several occult books. At the end of his activity, he became a follower of the Christian spiritualist healer, Anthelme Nizier Philippe, “Maître Philippe de Lyon”.
Coming back to March 23, 1895, it wa in that day that Dr. Encausse joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. His initiation was described in the official records of the Order
for that date, that are reported as it follows:
87 Rue Mozart
Saturday, March 23, 1895 – Vernal Equinox Meeting.
Temple opened by Sceptre in the 0=0 of Neophyte.
Hieroph. – V.H. Fr. S.R.M.D. 5=6
Hiereus – Sor. Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum 5=6
Hegemon – Fra. Ex Animo 5=6
Kerukaina – Sor. Altina Amo 2=9
As Stolistria – H. Sor. En Hakkore 4=7
Dadouchos – H. Fra. Judah 4=7
Sorores, “In Spe Pacis”; “Per Alas”; and “Mors Vita”; all 0=0
+ Papus candidate.
Dr. Gerard Encausse, an approved candidate, being in attendance was impressively admitted to the Grade of Neophyte, and took the Motto of Papus. The ceremony was performed in French, – for the first time after the rehearsal.
The Temple was closed in full form with the Mystic Repast and finally closed by Sceptre.
As the matter goes, it is not to be underestimated the role that Moina Bergson had on the direction of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Moina, then named Mina, was born in Geneva, Switzerland, to a talented and influential Jewish family of Polish from father’s and English and Irish from mother’s sides. She moved to Paris, when she was but two years of age. Her father, Michel Bergson, was a native of Warsaw and member of the influential Bereksohn Jewish family. Her eldest brother, Henri Bergson, is best known for authoring the philosophical work Creative Evolution, and also the president of the British Society for Psychical Research.
Moina joined the Slade School of Art, at the age of fifteen, an institute well known for encouraging young women in the Arts, at the turn of the nineteenth century. Moina was awarded a scholarship and four merit certificates for drawing at the School. It was also at the Slade in 1882, that Moina met her future friend Annie Horniman, the daughter of the director of the British Museum, who would become the major financial sponsor for the Matherses, as struggling artists and occultists, in backing the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Moina met her husband, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, in 1887, while studying at the British Museum, where Samuel was a strange kind of worker. A year later, her future husband founded the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, one of the most influential organisations in the Western Mystery Tradition. Moina was the first initiate of this Order in March, 1888. Her chosen motto in the Golden Dawn was Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum, meaning “Prudence never retraces its steps.” In their occult partnership, Samuel was the “evoker of spirits” and Moina the clairvoyant “seeress”, who often illustrated, as an artist, what her husband “evoked”. An artistic rendering of this was given in March 1899, when they performed the rites of the Egyptian goddess Isis, on the stage of the Théâtre La Bodinière in Paris.
In 1918, after her husband death, Moina took over the Alpha et Omega, a successor organisation to the Golden Dawn, as its Imperatrix. Remarkable members of this Order were Two famous members of the Alpha et Omega were Dion Fortune (pen name of Violet Firth) and Paul Foster Case. Moina died in 1928 in London.
And now, a few words about a not-so-know female artist and initiated: Emma Calvé.
Mujer de gran belleza, era la cantante de ópera más famosa y prestigiosa de finales del siglo XIX y principios del XX, causando gran sensación en toda Europa, por su extraordinaria voz de soprano, y por la forma tan audaz de representar a sus personajes en escena. Cada vez que su atareada vida profesional se lo permitía, Emma, que disponía de salón propio en el fastuoso hotel parisino de Tours-la.Reine, centro de reunión de la flor y nata del teatro, la música, la pintura y las letras, frecuentaba a conocidos ocultistas como Camille Flammarion, Papus, Josephin Peladan y sobre todo, a Jules Bois, periodista, escritor; miembro de la orden hermética de la Golden Dawn y uno de sus amantes más conocidos. Su pertenencia al Martinismo está sobradamente demostrada debido al descubrimiento de un documento fechado el 11 de noviembre de 1892, redactado en el famoso cabaret parisino Le Chat Noir (El Gato Negro), lugar de reunión de conocidos ocultistas, en el que aparece la firma de Emma Calvé, acompañada de las iniciales S.I.“Súperieur Inconnu” (Superior Desconocido).