Spiritualism and the Golden Dawn

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the most important magical society of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was established on the basis of spirit communication with supernatural entities. Known as the ‘Secret Chiefs’, these entities provided the source of authority for the leaders of the Order as well as later becoming the subject of dissension, functioning in a similar way to the contemporary Theosophical ‘Mahatmas’. However, the Golden Dawn is generally not considered in relation to the Spiritualist Movement. This chapter will re-examine that perspective by investigating the historical importance of alternative forms of mediumship within this magical society and its off-shoots.

Prof. Christopher Moreman, California State University, is editing a major three volume series on Spiritualism and has just accepted my proposed chapter on Spiritualism and the Golden Dawn.

About the book (from the original call for papers):

Modern Spiritualism as a religious movement finds its roots in mid-nineteenth century upstate New York during a time of great spiritual fervor in New England. Since then, Spiritualism has flourished and spread world-wide. Studies of Spiritualism have largely focused on the movement’s relationship to emergent feminism and gender issues or on its relationship to the paranormal and psychical research. The present series­ a 3 volume edited collection titled, The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World to be published by Praeger seeks to broaden the scope of the study of Spiritualism, and to bring together diverse perspectives on this American-made global religion.

The book will cover a broad range of subjects:

• American origins of the Spiritualist movement and its cultural and political ramifications
• Feminist perspectives on the Spiritualist movement and its leadership
• In-depth overviews of important figures in the history of Spiritualism (i.e. the Fox sisters, Patience Worth, Arthur Conan Doyle, William James, Frederic Myers, Harry Houdini, or William Lyon Mckenzie King)
• The spread of Spiritualism and the Spiritualist movement in
non-American contexts (i.e. Iceland, England, Brazil, Europe, East Asia)
• Ethnographic studies of Spiritualism
• Evidence-based claims made by Spiritualism and Spiritualists
• Debates over the findings of psychical research and parapsychological studies of mediums
• Mediumship as a phenomenon of human experience throughout history and across the globe.
• Spiritualism in relation to other new religious movements like the Theosophical Society, the Thelemic Orders, or Wicca
• Spiritualism and mediums as portrayed in popular media and the popularity of the movement generally
• Death, grief, and the role of Spiritualism in bereavement
• Christian and other dominant religions’ responses to Spiritualism