by Golden Dawn Imperator
Nick Farrell recently published a highly interesting article, entitled "A rough guide for avoiding bad magical groups." You can read it HERE.
I find that most of Mr. Farrell's conclusions in this arena concur with the results of my own independent research. Clearly, as Mr. Farrell suggests,"Astral-only Initiation" and the attacks on other groups that have all too frequently plagued our community, have gone far to denigrate the overall image of the Golden Dawn.
There are other problems that we have faced as a community as well though, the most flagrent of which was one Golden Dawn leader impregnating the 15 year old daughter of one of his order members. Clearly this has no place in the Golden Dawn. Abuse of power has not been limited to this arena, however. Of late, for example, word has surfaced of certain Golden Dawn groups threatening their members with expulsion (and even black magic attack) if they attend lectures hosted by members of a different order!
The Alpha Omega certainly does not operate this way. We hold personal responsibility as an important esoteric virtue. Thus we do not interfere in the private lives of our members. What then are healthy warning signs when a magical group takes a turn in a mistaken direction?
The Pagan community has dealt with such issues for a long time now and there are a number of good ideas the Golden Dawn community could learn from. For example, in 1979, Druid leader, Isaac Bonewits, constructed an evaluation tool which is now known the “Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame” or the “ABCDEF” (because evaluating these groups should be elementary). A copy was included in that year’s revised edition of his book, Real Magic. He realize its shortcomings, but felt that it could be effectively used to separate harmless groups from the potentially dangerous ones and distinguish harmful ones from those that are merely unusual to the observer.
The purpose of the Bonewitz evaluation tool is to help both amateur and professional observers, including current or would-be members, of various organizations (including religious, occult, psychological or political groups) to determine just how dangerous a given group is liable to be, in comparison with other groups, to the physical and mental health of its members and of other people subject to its influence. It cannot speak to the spiritual danger.
Here are the Bonewitz warning signs:
1 Internal Control: Amount of internal political and social power exercised by leader(s) over members; lack of clearly defined organizational rights for members.2 External Control: Amount of external political and social influence desired or obtained; emphasis on directing members’ external political and social behavior.3 Wisdom/Knowledge Claimed by leader(s); amount of infallibility declared or implied about decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations; number and degree of unverified and/or unverifiable credentials claimed.4 Wisdom/Knowledge Credited to leader(s) by members; amount of trust in decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations made by leader(s); amount of hostility by members towards internal or external critics and/or towards verification efforts.5 Dogma: Rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal inflexibility or “fundamentalism;” hostility towards relativism and situationalism.6 Recruiting: Emphasis put on attracting new members; amount of proselytizing; requirement for all members to bring in new ones.7 Front Groups: Number of subsidiary groups using different names from that of main group, especially when connections are hidden.8 Wealth: Amount of money and/or property desired or obtained by group; emphasis on members’ donations; economic lifestyle of leader(s) compared to ordinary members.9 Sexual Manipulation of members by leader(s) of non-tantric groups; amount of control exercised over sexuality of members in terms of sexual orientation, behavior, and/or choice of partners.10 Sexual Favoritism: Advancement or preferential treatment dependent upon sexual activity with the leader(s) of non-tantric groups.11 Censorship: Amount of control over members’ access to outside opinions on group, its doctrines or leader(s).12 Isolation: Amount of effort to keep members from communicating with non-members, including family, friends and lovers.13 Dropout Control: Intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts.14 Violence: Amount of approval when used by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s).15 Paranoia: Amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies; exaggeration of perceived power of opponents; prevalence of conspiracy theories.16 Grimness: Amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the group, its doctrines or its leader(s).17 Surrender of Will: Amount of emphasis on members not having to be responsible for personal decisions; degree of individual disempowerment created by the group, its doctrines or its leader(s).18 Hypocrisy: amount of approval for actions which the group officially considers immoral or unethical, when done by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s); willingness to violate the group’s declared principles for political, psychological, social, economic, military, or other gain.