You simply cannot discuss colorful and intriguing aspects of Victorian culture without at some point bringing up The Golden Dawn.
The trouble is, there’s so much to potentially discuss, i honestly don’t know where to begin. However, we must begin somewhere so here it is:
In the late 1800s secret societies, most noteably the Freemasons and other similar brotherhoods dedicated to self improvement using rituals as impacting experiential learning tools, were all the rage. Different lodges were outdoing each other to come up with “new” degrees which would both teach something of interest and come wrapped in an intense ritual. There were no TVs or movies or little gadgety toys. Going down to the Lodge on a Thursday night and having an intense experience and learning something interesting, wrapped in all the pomp and circumstance of participatory theater was a bloody cool thing to do.
Thus it only makes sense that there was a hungry audience for forms of Western Esoterica. Many different aspects of a quite long line of esoteric knowledge and techniques were being passed around, studied and practiced, but where The Golden Dawn succeeded magnificently is that they took all these disparate fields, from Qabalah to Tarot to Skrying (seeing visions by gazing at something like a crystal ball), Egyptian god archetypes, ceremonial magic, astrology, divination, etc and bound the entire thing up into a single coherent system of training.
They assembled all these loose strands, made them coherent and studyable, and as such had an unimaginable impact on all forms of western esoterica to come afterwards, especially the big 20th century movements of New Age and Wicca.
Now we come to our crossroads. From here there are two coarses where i’d like to go: the very fascinating history of this colorful but actually rather short lived group, and a general discussion of what the hell they actual DID, and what this stuff is all about in the long run (from my perspective at least). Athiests think it’s pure, unbridled nutcasery (and it is admittedly impossible to visit these Lands and not encounter some Pastures where the Rain of Wackery just pours down upon thee) and many of the more serious type Christians of course get worked up into a frothy, bug eyed hysteria.
That’s… hell that entire last sentence is enough to get my undivided attention even if you’re only selling vacuum cleaners. Vacuum salesmen take note: the secret of the way into my home has been spake. Let those with ears hear. Of course, i also enjoy talking to Mormons who stop by, occasionally a Jehovah’s Witness (except they never shut up and it’s never a two way conversation) and sometimes even a Scientologist or two, despite my intense hatred of their Church. I like theology and interesting belief systems.
So tomorrow we shall pick a road. Let the festivities and lamentations begin.