Wednesday, December 26, 2012

$ Money and the Golden Dawn

by Golden Dawn Imperator
David Griffin

Recently, a reader of the International Golden Dawn Yahoo forum wrote a post implying that it is somehow scandalous or "unspiritual" that the Alpha Omega charges $144 per year enrollment to study in our undergraduate level training program, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. 

This attitude of entitlement, thinly veiled behind the weird argument that "everything spiritual should be free" is even more prevalent in the Pagan community than it is in the Golden Dawn.

It is important once in a while for leaders in the Golden Dawn community to draw a line in the sand for such irrational thinking. Nick Farrell drew such a line last week, when discussing his considering a return to a teacher-apprentice format (which we have used in the Alpha Omega all along), Nick Farrell wrote here:
"The other side of this is that money will have to change hands. This sort of training would not be for occult tourists and one thing that discourages that sort of behaviour from the student is the fact that they have invested money in it."
- Nick Farrell 
I also drew such a line recently on our Yahoo forum posted the following reply that I feel deserves to be cross-posted here as well:

"In reality, the Alpha Omega offers plenty of free or free-will donation based public services, including our International Golden Dawn Yahoo forum, articles on The Golden Dawn Blog, free Webinars on Ritual Magic, and even Ritual Magic personal training around the world with the Golden Dawn World Tour.

Does anyone honestly believe that providing all these services costs NOTHING?

How about operating three informational websites in 8 languages operated on virtual private server space that requires massive bandwidth. We also have a paid programmers, web designers, administrative assistants, etc., in addition to our volunteer staff.

Does anyone really believe that all of this costs NOTHING?
  1. Golden-Dawn.Com houses more complete Golden Dawn free public information than anywhere else on the web, including our vast. 
  2. Golden Dawn Reference Library, where you will find hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of books available for FREE download.
  3. Our exclusive Golden Dawn Membership Website contains complete course curriculum materials, tutorials forum, virtual classroom with regular classes, on-line testing, etc.
  4. The Golden Dawn Research Center at Golden-Dawn.Org provides extensive research on the Golden Dawn and related spiritual traditions from top scholars around the world.
  5. Golden-Dawn.Info provides a FAQ and fascinating historical information about the Golden Dawn. 
  6. The Golden Dawn Blog provides constant updates, research information, and other essential Golden Dawn topics available nowhere else. 
  7. The Golden Dawn Facebook Group provides answers from Adepts about all aspects of the Golden Dawn.
  8. GoldenDawn.TV brings you Golden Dawn Ritual Magic Training videos and live interactive Webinars. 
  9. Ritual Magic Webinars in our new, live audio and video streaming Webinar Room.
And all of this is provided as a FREE public service!

Does anyone honestly believe that the above - in addition to operating the world's largest multi-national Golden Dawn order - costs NOTHING?

Our outer order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, is the most thorough college of Ritual Magic anywhere in the world today. We provide course material that would cost hundreds of dollars in books alone to obtain elsewhere. We provide you a proven, thorough, supervised system to learn Ritual Magic with feedback, coaching, and guidance from one of our Adepts as your private tutor.

Begin Rant

ALL OF THE ABOVE is paid for out of extremely meager enrollment ($144 per year), which amount to $12 per month - about the price of a coffee and pastry at Starbucks.

Why is it that people wantonly spend hundreds of dollars on books and many more hundreds of dollars each year on junk food, computer games, and other superfluous things, yet are not willing to spend  EVEN THE PRICE OF CUP OF STARBUCKS COFFEE for their spiritual development and their energetic SOUL, complaining instead that everything should be free!?!?!

Why do some people feel their spiritual evolution and the energetic growth of their immortal Soul are so worthless they are not willing to spend one dime on them?

Let's get real here.

Please excuse me for being so blunt, but if anyone honestly believes that their spiritual growth is not worth even the price of a movie, then the HOGD (AO) is DEFINITELY not right for them.

Here in the Golden Dawn, our initiatic resources are far to precious to waste on people not willing to sacrifice anything at all for their spiritual growth.

Extended Rant

As long as I am ranting about money, there are a few things I have been meaning to clear up for a long time.

I am amazed there are still leaders in the Golden Dawn community that provide not a fraction of the free services the Alpha Omega does, yet turn around and accuse other people of trying to get rich by gaining membership!

And these are the same people that publish 10 books on the GD and market them all over the forums!

On the other hand, I publish endless free teachings on the Golden Dawn websites, forums, and blogs and ask nothing in return. I could republish the Ritual Magic Manual and reap a tidy profit. I could write a dozen new books and reap a really good profit (like they do).

Instead, I create materials for members that pay almost nothing per year. Yet, I am accused by others who are themselves profiteering on the Golden Dawn of trying to get rich.

At least I have a "real job."

End Rant

My above rant seems to have sparked a bit of controversy. One reader of the International Golden Dawn Forum over on Yahoo jumped into the discussion and replied:
"Mr. Griffin, 
[With total sarcasm in my voice] Why don’t you ask the computer network company why they charge you? Then tell the computer hardware people to ask why Dell wants to be paid for the servers. Dell can then ask why the engineers and assembly people want to be paid. Then the employees can ask why the grocery store wants to be paid. Then the grocery store can ask why the farmers and delivery people want money. The delivery people can ask why GM wants money for their trucks and mechanics want money for fixing them. 
It’s just a world of greed!  
Here is a solution to avoid the greedy world of money. How about I do something for someone and then they do something for me in return? I could grow corn and give it away to someone who, in return, builds me a house. Then, everybody is giving things away and no money exchanges hands! What? One ear of corn doesn’t equal one house? OK. I will give one ton of corn. What? Where are you to store a ton of corn that will take you 5 years to eat? Hmm. I know, I will give you some special rocks, each of which represents one bushel of corn. When you need more corn, you can exchange a rock for a fresh bushel. In fact, you could trade my special corn rocks to others who want corn for something they have. If we all accept the special rock as representing the value of another product, then we can trade for anything. No money, just people giving things away to each other and keeping track with a simple rock trading system. I AM A GENIUS! (Stop applauding and bowing, it makes me self-conscious.) 
You sir are stealing from the community! You see, when you maintain an Order, you have to keep it running day and night, around the world, where at least one time zone is always awake and asking for advice. You have to spend your nights writing blog posts, refining your curriculum, working with your adepts to improve teaching methods, build and maintain your Temple, and go to your real job in between. Not only do you ask too much, I think you sleep too much.  
I saw on your blog you are offering to travel anywhere in the world to help establish a temple – for free! You’re a scoundrel!!!! Nothing more. 
[End sarcasm]  
We have a world of children that do not understand the money system. John Michael Greer has a wonderful book (which he actually charges money for) titled Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth. Within he provides a meditation to take any object and really think about where it came from, step-by-step. That cup of coffee you’re holding? 
Trace that back – all the way back. Think of all the lives that touched that cup of coffee. You will find your feeble mind cannot possibly keep track of the journey.
You will need to consider how you got to Starbucks, the car you drove, the clothes you wear, and the money you used to purchase it. And that’s just to get you to Starbucks. What about the car you drove, the roads you drove upon, the gas in your car, the tankers that brought the gas to the station, and so on. Where did the coffee cup come from? How many lives did it take to get it to your local Starbucks? What about the beans, the lid, the chair you sit on while drinking it? The lights that power the Starbucks? All of this should be FREE? WHY???? 
Yes, some people are writing occult books and making a pretty penny to do it. Bless them. Yes, you are charging to join your Order. Bless you. And, of course, bless Starbucks, the meeting place of choice for people who want to enjoy a $7 drink in comfort while reading your free blog on their $800 iPad using the Starbucks wifi and condemn you for charging to join. 
Why can’t you provide free products like Starbucks and Apple?
You’re a scoundrel!"

"Why does it some days feel like you just cant win?" 


  1. I haven't read the whole article at the moment of my post; and the first thing I find is someone saying "implying that it is somehow scandalous or "unspiritual" that the Alpha Omega charges $99 per year Order dues to study in our undergraduate level training program, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn".

    I think I don't need to read the rest to post my reply, but I can say this:

    Have you seen how many magicians who don't belong to an Order are charging for their services? Have you ever visited one of the most recognized astrologers and have you seen how much does he charges for Talismans and Courses? ah!, and that's for a product, not for a membership to something.

    If the customer wants something else, they will have to pay more for more products. Have you seen how many other recognized names in the esoteric community are charging for courses/books/services?

    Ok, I will continue reading the article and if I have to come back and post a message to those who think that paying dues to an Organization is "unspiritual" I will do it.


    1. Mr Griffin i think you are awesome and i was proud to purchase the fantastic manual of magick for a measley 7 dollars ..big freaking deal .....7 dollars is not ripping me off for everything i have obtained in this awesome book and 12 dollars a month is nothing for dues for all the material you provide the the material a student receives is unbelievable...sir my freemason lodge dues are about 4 times that amount and most of my material to learn is what i seek out and buy..i have already read free material and found it lacking in the blue devrees because you not suppose to get real info until the higher scottish rite degrees am i not are awrsome mr griffin and i have the upmost respect for you and what your doing and you had every right to rant about money...

  2. I can accept that there are those who at times find themselves in deep financial trouble, staving off bankruptcy and struggling just to put food on the table. This is not directed at them.

    However, the notion that HOGD is wrong to charge even this nominal membership fee is just way off the mark.

    At the end of the day, if someone takes issue with the fee, then they should simply not join this organization; there is no reason for them to bitch about it! I would be surprised though if they can find a Lodge without dues...

    1. What goes unsaid and unnoticed since to do not talk about this much, is that we have even on occasion granted scholarships in the form of dues waivers to promising students who are doing their work and going through the grades, yet run into financial trouble. This is done on a case by case basis, and always according to merit.

  3. @ Aletheia

    As a matter of fact, there have been times when the Alpha Omega has waived dues due to financial hardship - particularly to students who have demonstrated merit by working hard and regularly on their grade work.

  4. If ever there was a proof that HOGD is not "in it for the money" then the Imperator just spoke it!

    Personally, I am amazed at the amount that the Order is doing for so little recompense. It completely breaks the pattern we have come to expect of New Age businesses, where all this would play as some variety of esoteric pyramid selling opportunity.

    HOGD clearly isn't a New Age phenomenon, but interested parties do generally approach it after first being exposed to all that rampant spiritual materialism - it is SO refreshing to discover genuine concerns for the spiritual welfare of the aspirant in Golden Dawn.

    1. @ Jerome Orff

      Thank you for your kind words. No, the Golden Dawn is certainly not a New Age tradition.

      I am thankful that I am solid in my mundane career and that it allows me to do so much philanthropic work. Indeed, this is a great privilege.

  5. Why, the hell someone should cover the costs of your sholarship?
    (understanding all exceptions possible)

  6. @ Soror FDKJR

    I'll try to cover your question, though I am guessing a little as to your intention so please bear with me:

    I'm not sure who the "your" is in your statement. So let's try a few possible variations...

    If you mean why should HOGD members pay their dues when some are given a "freebie" then the answer is that there are no freebies, only those who have "demonstrated merit" and can be relied upon to contribute. This is actually a very wise investment in the progress of those who are demonstrating that they are hard working and diligent students. Experience shows us that when you assist someone who is of such genuine merit, then they are generally of enormous benefit to the organisation and its wider membership in the future. To lose such students because they could not meet a few dues payments would be worse than tragic!

    If you mean that dues payments in general are something that you are against because you believe they go to cover the costs of HOGD scholars furthering their own researches without benefit to the membership, then I am sorry to hear that you have had the sorts of experience in the GD community that would cause you to draw that conclusion.

    The detailed list in the above blog doesn't attempt to itemize all of the costs that HOGD covers while providing services both to members and to the wider esoteric community.

    I very seriously doubt that dues do fully cover the running costs. I imagine that the words "philanthropic work" are actually very accurate.

    I do not think that HOGD needs to use dues revenue to fund any kind of scholarship at all. The unique selling point of the Order has long been that it is the recipient of MANY esoteric streams and empowerments, and as a result is not engaged in scholarly reconstructions of a neo-Golden Dawn.

    The beauty of our diverse GD community is that there is room for ALL approaches as we bring Hermeticism to a wider and wider group of modern aspirants, who are themselves very diverse in their backgrounds and needs.

    There is room for the scholarly neo-GD approach too, and in such cases dues may well drive research, but then students will choose to pay those dues in the belief that the fruits of the research will benefit them.

    In the case of HOGD there are plenty of scholars inside the Order, but they are not in an Order of Scholars - they are in an Order of Hermetic Magicians, and this is a central difference.

    HOGD makes Magicians - some of whom are also scholars.

    I hope that covers the ground of your concerns?

  7. I'm sorry for being a cause of such a misunderstanding. The reason is probably my english bad grammar, for which I'm sorry.

    I was intended to speak to people who share the opinion, which was the reason of this article.

    I fully support some are granted, but why everyone in general would be supposed to?

    I have never considered what fees are really for, that doesn't matter for me.
    I said about covering costs because I imagine there's not much more one can do with such amount.
    I'm also apeaking about sholarship costs, because this is what I perceive as what the Order does what the money could be useful in material terms. I'm not considering the Order's mission, while being a Neophyte, but I perceive it different in nature. You said it very well.
    I imagine we would really had to worry costs if paying for whole teaching. And teaching is not the only that we get but I'm not going to value it for money.

    Operating undoubtedly generates costs and I don't understand why someone expects the Order would cover cost one him/herself generates.
    I also don't suppose fee can cover material costs. Just considering it I think it's just fair to be able to participate in cost of the Order in this small way.
    I have intended to support the merit of the article in my own, small unspiritual way.
    I think your post is adding to the subject very well.

    Soror FDKJR

  8. @ Soror FDKJR,

    Thank you for sharing. I feel that i need to clarify at this juncture. It is only on the most rare of occasions that we have ever granted scholarships. These have been for a very limited period and have been in cases where students have run into financial difficulties in their life and have already shown great merit by doing their gradework completing exams and submitting regular reports. Again, this is only in the rarest of cases.

    Yes, language barriers can be dificult and lend eaily to misunderstanding. I speak 8 languages and have been frequently misunderstood.

    Again, thank you for sharing.

  9. Thank you for your words G.H. Imperator L.e.S.
    I will be trying to watch myself better.

  10. Dear Caput Mortuum,

    I do wholly share your view on activity of the Order, supporting some members too.I might have say it unclear but was only meaning, that
    I think costs always arise in organisations dealing with membership, training, so normally people should cover these, while fees aren't high anyway.
    Soror FDKJR

  11. @Soror FDKR,

    No problems. Where misunderstandings arise and are clarified, we all have an opportunity to express ourselves clearly on matters that may not in fact be so clear to many readers. You have engaged in a creative exchange and this is beneficial - thank you for helping generate this by suggesting the questions you did, even if that was not your intention! ;-) It is not unusual for serendipity to become the source of great results.


  12. Dear Imperator Griffin
    Thanks for remind me of all these shannanigans,I almost forgot about it.
    Yes it was an intense couple of days on that forum,really is just insanity to me that people can't see how generous you are and also that they are not willing to not get their extra soy chai latte a day,I mean for the love of God!

    Anyway I know how kind you are,and others know too so the rest of them if they don't get it then maybe this is not the path for them anyway right?
    I loved your rant,reading again now I almost spilled my coffee(that cost me minimal amount cause I grinded at home )
    Thanks Imperator
    Soror Luna

  13. I think that, at 99 dollars, this is a complete GIFT to humanity. If a true dollar value were to be placed on what you RECEIVE, it would be incalculable. It costs money to deliver these services, why would it be a problem then to pay dues which ultimately would benefit YOU? The money you spend is essentially money spent on yourself. Or you could always blow it on an expensive dinner....which one do you prefer?

  14. GH Imperator,

    I'm in agreement with you. I highly doubt that $99 is too much money to pay yearly (tho I'm having trouble paying my dues currently, admittedly) or that it's unethical in any way.

    I never complained about the dues, considering the fact that if you divided $99 by 12 months you pay $8.25 a month... honestly, that isn't bad... I called myself trying to be cheap, and thought the monthly dues to the B.O.T.A were cheaper... I'm actually spending more money in 6 months with them than I did for one year at the HOGD - and I don't get half as much as the HOGD provides and offers (although I'm not placing one form of education above the other).

    I'll be getting into the groove of things soon, myself (and happily donating my $99 dues without a flinch, lol) - but I've never and will never blame or condemn the HOGD for ME not being able to afford $8.25 a month for assistance in my occult and spiritual education.

    Thanks for keeping it good (the Order), and constantly making improvements. I believe I speak for a lot of other folks when I say it's extremely appreciated, Imperator & GH Frater LES.


    Frater A3

  15. Ilustre Imperador DAVID GRIFFIN.
    Problemas semelhantes, em Vl Continentes.

  16. I have gotten so much for my membership dues that to imply that they are too expensive, or that anyone is getting rich from this is deluded. Seriously, suffering from some form of mental disorder, or dis-ease.....this Order is worth every cent, and I am more than satisfied with the services and program. Can't believe people think it should be free in a capitalist economy, that would never work, until we as a country, and never will I'm sure, forget the bottom line and put people and god, and living things first this condition will prevail. Those naysayers do not belong in the group.

  17. From experience, as well as the observation of individuals. Giving out this material “freely” without reciprocal effort, whether monetarily or other, is damaging to the development, of the individual who distributes it, as well as the one who receives it, on all levels. In other words, any individual who puts forth the effort to acquire the necessary means to earn the material will benefit and move along without opposition and surprising support from inner levels, contrary to that individual who receives it “freely”. For the one who receives it “freely”, and even worse without permission, will not notice that, unstoppable deterrent of inner-growth, a deterrent which has been denied as being part of our psychology by thieves and usurpers of values. A state which is non-existent to the productive individual, the one who understands the rational exchange of values and the personal evolution towards his golden essence.