Wednesday, January 13, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Regardie's "The Golden Dawn" New Hardcover Edition by Llewellyn Publishing (Ed. John Michael Greer)

by Golden Dawn Imperator
David Griffin

Llewellyn's long awaited new edition of Regardie's "The Golden Dawn" is out, edited by John Michael Greer. There have been high hopes for this new edition all across the Golden Dawn community. It is therefore unsurprising that the reaction from the community has been swift. Golden Dawn scholar, Dr. Tony Fuller, today set the tone for what I believe will be a coming avalanche of well deserved condemnation of this "new" edition.

Dr. Fuller writes:
"I have just received my copy and spent 30 minutes comparing it with the old version - and with original Hermes Temple/SM manuscripts. Some good points: It is attractively produced and importantly there is an index. The coloured diagrams section contains new versions of diagrams and additional ones. While these are not entirely to my liking in terms of style nevertheless they are a welcome addition. There are some additional diagrams and papers lacking from the previous edition and this too is a valuable change. Unfortunately, in my review, it is all down hill from there - every error- I repeat, every error and omission of words and paragraphs which appeared in previous editions also occur here. Not a single one has been corrected.To pick a few (from scores of errors) at random: on page 369 (Hexagram Ritual), line 6/7, after the word "Saturn" there should appear the sentence, "Similarly the Invoking Hexagram of Mercury is traced first from the lower left hand angle and the complimentary triangle from the angle of Jupiter." In the context of both the Pentagram and Hexagram rituals neither of the vital diagrams, coloured on a black background, are produced - just as they were omitted from Regardie. At the conclusion of the 3=8 ceremony both the old and new versions omit the final speech from the Hierophant: "In the name of Elohim Tzabaoth I declare this Temple closed in the 3=8 Grade of Practicus." All the same errors in the rituals are repeated here - knocks missing, words omitted or incorrect words used and so forth. For example, on page 334 it says, "....all the phantoms are banished." It should read, "have vanished": page 360, "great light in affirmation..." should be, "...light, in allusion to the affirmation." More importantly, on p.368, line 17/18 the word is not "Talisman" but "Telesma". Superficially the Grade Temple diagrams are a slight improvement but are still almost useless as working guides for ceremony for, apart from actual errors in a few cases, they completely lack any mention of the specific Grade diagrams and where these are placed in the Temple. I have yet to look closely at the treatment of the Z documents but suspect they are left in the same unsatisfactory state as in the previous editions: viz. errors, sentences and paragraphs missing, paraphrasing by Regardie etc.So is this edition an improvement on what went before? Yes - it has more diagrams - from the many previously lacking - it has a few additional papers (but with new errors I note); it has an index (very important) and it is easier to use. I like the continuous pagination and the page headings. So it is worth purchasing just for these improvements. But equally it is a huge disappointment that no effort - I repeat, no effort - was made to correct the numerous errors and significant omissions which appeared earlier. Access to original manuscripts, or copies, would have been relatively easy. Indeed I (and no doubt others) could have sent the editor a complete list of the necessary changes in a matter of minutes. So a great opportunity lost."
I concur with most of what Dr. Fuller writes above, although I disagree with his conclusion. A great opportunity has not been "lost" by Llewellyn. Llewellyn took the opportunity. They just used it for an agenda other than correcting the deficiencies of previous editions.

Having reviewed this so-called "new" hardcover edition myself now, the entire project appears to be little more than yet another scheme by Llewellyn to keep milking the Golden Dawn as a cash cow as Llewellyn has done for decades. This 'new" edition fully lives up to Llewellyn's reputation for publishing cheaply produced "Pulp Magick" books that rehash the same, identical material over and over, "ad nauseum."

There is precious little new, if anything, of Magickal value in this so-called "new" edition. In fact, there is precious little "new" at all, with the noteworthy exceptions of an index and, as expected, an attempt by Llewellyn at modern historical revisionism. With this "new" edition, Llewellyn attempts to rewrite modern Golden Dawn history, writing Cris Monnastre and her importance to the modern Golden Dawn revival completely out of it. In fact, the only major change I see in this work from previous editions is the deliberate omission of Cris Monnastre's fine introduction.

For those unfamiliar with Israel Regardie's life or his relationship with Cris Monnastre, she was Dr. Regardie's primary disciple towards the end of his life. It's important to note that Dr. Regardie so loved and believed in the Golden Dawn system of Magick that he and Cris Monnastre performed a 9 month series of rituals in the late 70's to call forth a Golden Dawn resurgence in America.

This 9 month working by Regardie and Monnastre, in my opinion, was directly responsible for the Golden Dawn revival of the last 30 years. In a very real sense, Dr. Regardie and Ms. Monnastre were the Magickal parents and progenitors of this revival, much as Moina and S.L. MacGregor Mathers and their Magickal operations were in large part responsible for the modern occult revival of the 20th Century. Any reference to all of this is carefully and completely omitted from the new Llewellyn edition.  Instead, Ms. Monnastre's introduction is merely eliminated without so much as a whisper of explanation. This is a "not so subtle" attempt by Llewellyn to manipulate the contemproary Golden Dawn community to favor Llewellyn's preferred factions.

Add to the attempted historical revisionism and the glaring failure to correct errors from previous editions, a whopping price tag of $65 for yet another Llewellyn "Pulp Magick" rehash, and you have an almost completely worthless "new" edition.


Knowing Llewellyn's usual marketing, we can soon expect a whole series of fawning reviews of this edition, written by various presstitutes from Llewellyn's own stable of authors.

My advice?

Don't waste your hard earned cash on yet another Llewellyn scheme trying to make a buck on the back of the Golden Dawn.  Save your money and spend it instead on something that at least contains some legitimately NEW material of authentic Magickal value. In this "new" edition, you will find nothing of the sort.

If you don't have Regardie's Golden Dawn book yet, you can all find ALL material available FREE on-line HERE. Or if you are into collecting printed books, you can always pick up a used copy of a previous edition for peanuts on - or you can wait to pick up this "new" edition from the remainder table of Barnes and Noble, where it rightly belongs.

I am certainly not trying to coerce you, and I am not telling you what to do, but here is an idea:

If you are unhappy about Llewellyn continuing to meddle in the affairs of the Golden Dawn community by trying to rewrite contemporary Golden Dawn history, there IS something you COULD do about it.

You might, for example, want to review the book, then take the time to drop by to give this "new" edition a review as the error-ridden rehash it actually is!

As an alternative, you might want to check out Pat Zalewski's "Golden Dawn Rituals and Commentaries," which actually contains additional material beyond what Regardie published already in 1937 and Llewellyn has uncritically repackaged "ad nauseum" for almost a Century. Here is the Zalewksi book cover.


  1. Bummer. I pre-ordered the book last summer and just recently received it. Though it will be new to me as I have yet to read any version I hope to find some value in it. I had read other reviews of books by John Michael Greer and customer reviews really seem to like his books.

  2. I agree with both Imperator Griffins' and Dr Fullers' assessment of the "NEW" Llewellyn-make-a-quick-buck edition of the Golden Dawn.

  3. Outside of this "new" edtion. What is the difference between the llewellyn and the new falcon versions? Besides the fact that the falcon version is actually 4 books.

    1. I'm not sure if they ever fixed the problems, but the New Falcon edition used to suffer from lack of continuous pagination and index. The other problem, according to what Cris Monnastre told me, is that Regardie did a significant amount of paraphrasing, as he was afraid of being sued by Llewellyn over the Falcon Press edition.

  4. Between desktop publishing and the advent of internet televised education, who needs dinosaur media companies like Llewellyn? I predict that print book published will go the way of the dinosaurs, as will television networks. The internet revolution will end up making all of these Brontosaurus extinct within a short period of time.

    1. I agree with that, though there is something cool with having special hardback books at times. To bad this didn't have the corrections you noted.

    2. Does anyone have a link to a webpage that points out all the errors in the Golden Dawn 6th edition, Published by Llewellyn. I would not mind correcting the errors in my copy myself.

    3. Does anyone have a link to a webpage that points out all the errors in the Golden Dawn 6th edition, Published by Llewellyn. I would not mind correcting the errors in my copy myself.

  5. I own this edition. It replaced my old paperback edition and I mostly agree with John Michael Greer's work.

    I don't mean this to slight your review, I'm just curious.

    In John Michael Greer's acknowledgement he thanks David Griffin and others in Golden Dawn Community for their contributions.

  6. Thank you for your comments on my brief review, which I mostly agree with. I have had more opportunity to examine the 7th edition at greater length and this has only strengthened my view that the small improvements are outweighed by other factors. I was wrong in suggestion that are some new papers - there are not. The Polygons and Polygrams paper is given a very inferior collection of the corresponding diagrams, and other diagrams previously lacking are given but they are all poor renditions of the originals. Although this may be a personal matter I dislike intensely the removal of virtually all the capitalization - while the Golden Dawn was prone to overuse it occasionally nevertheless much of it is of importance, especially in a ritualistic sense. In my view a great deal of significance is lost. I also agree with you David vis a vis the New Falcon version - Regardie borrowed these from Carr P Collins, a wealthy collector - they are a mixture of manuscripts from the GD, SM, AO, FRC and Waite's Independent & Rectified Rite. It is interesting and useful for many to have access to these but it is all crammed in together indiscriminately - Regardie's commentary throughout is of little value. He had great trouble writing his commentary - being old, ill and at a loss to know what to say. If someone is seeking the best available copy of a large collection of the GD (etc) material then the New Falcon version is currently probably the best option - although it too has its faults and a few errors. And I do agree David that Pat Zalewski's book, which you mention, also has a great deal of valuable material.