Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nick Farrell: Golden Dawn History or Tabloid Journalism?

It is most unfortunate when Golden Dawn writers and leaders make outrageous statements disguised as established historical fact. For example, a few years back Robert Zink of the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn claimed that sexuality has no place in the Golden Dawn because Moina and S.L. MacGregor Mathers had lived in a "celibate" marriage. As convenient as this Puritanical vision would have been for Mr. Zink's Roman Catholicized, Second Order of his EOGD, it simply is not supported by any solid historical evidence. I recently refuted these arguments at length on a podcast reproduced on this blog.
I am rather alarmed once again today by the way Golden Dawn history is being treated by Nick Farrell. To cite a few examples, Mr. Farrell frequently refers to Golden Dawn co-founder, S.L. MacGregor Mathers as a "drooling looney" as though this were established historical fact. In reality, not a single shred of evidence exists that even remotely suggests that Mathers suffered any sort of mental illness whatsoever. The same can be said for Mr. Farrell's equally sensationalistic claims that S.L. MacGregor Mathers wife was "frigid" and that Mathers himself was "having an affair with the maid in Paris."
Such sensationalistic speculation masquerading as historical fact would not be so concerning, were Mr. Farrell not presenting himself as a credible Golden Dawn historian rather than as a tabloid journalist, which is Mr. Farrell's true professional background.
Let me give you one example of how dangerous to historical truth such tabloid journalism can be when presented as historical fact. Ellic Howe, who did not like the Golden Dawn, introduces into his study of the Golden Dawn the equally sensationalistic speculation that the letters written from "Fraulein Sprengel" to Golden Dawn co-founder were "forged by Wescott." To support this sensationalistic claim, Howe cited a Swiss named "Oskar Schlag," in whose "expert" opinion the letters were written by an English speaker.
Golden Dawn historian, R.A. Gilbert, who, like Howe, is hostile towards the Golden Dawn, repeats Howe's assertions as though they were established historical facts. This has led to a whole generation of magicians today believing that "the Golden Dawn is based on a forgery."
Dr. Robert Word of the August Order of the Mystic Rose brought this problem to my attention several years ago, after showing the Sprengel letters to a native German speaker who disputed Howe's and Schlag's claims. This aroused my curiosity as a professional linguist with a degree in Germanic languages. I therefore examined the Sprengel letters myself, which I confirm are written in Suterlin German script consistent with the Suterlin German script prevalent at the end of the 19th Century.
Moreover, I find nothing whatsoever that in any way indicates that the Sprengel letters were not written by a native German speaker. We must therefore conclude that Ellic Howe and Robert Gilbert's assertions that the Golden Dawn was based on a forgery are unsupported by any historical facts.
This is a prime example of the harm that can be done to the Golden Dawn by sensationalistic rumors masquerading as established historical facts spread by "credible historians" with a personal axe to grind against the Golden Dawn as a tradition or against any particular Golden Dawn order.
This compelling example makes clear the danger posed to the Golden Dawn a sensationalistic treatment of Golden Dawn history. This is clearly also the case with recent tabloid-like claims made by Nick Farrell, whose professional background, in reality, is as a tabloid journalist rather than as a credible, academic historian.

- David Griffin


  1. Care,

    I find this interesting:

    "This aroused my curiosity as a professional linguist with a degree in Germanic languages."

    Have you considered writing a linguistic analysis of these letters?

    At least then it could be cross-compared to others with this same expertise. Since these papers should not present a problem with oaths, etc. It would verify your research by semi-peer review.

    I personally (but then I'm pretty weird! LOL) would find this very interesting.


  2. My dear brother, David,
    thank you for this. I have heard that rubbish about the forged letters in the past. It is heartening to see someone refute it.

    k westcott

  3. Care Frater AM,

    Actually, this is not my research. It was the research of Dr. Robert Word that corrected this unfortunate and persistent rumor.

    I merely agree with Dr. Word's findings.

    Now that the cat is out of the bag, Dr. Word's discovery will no doubt be quickly further corroborated by others.

    - David Griffin

  4. I just spoke with Dr. Word, who is pleased that the cat is finally out of the bag about Ellic Howe's Forgery Hoax. Dr. Word suggests that I add one more piece of information to the discussion.

    Florence Farr headed a Second Order committee that investigated allegations of forgery. In regard to the Sprengel-Wescott letters, the committee found no forgery. This did not prevent 70 years later, however, Ellic Howe and Oskar Schlag (the head of a Swiss occult order) attacking the Golden Dawn with renewed, Tabloid-like allegations of forgery.

  5. Care,

    since i have a degree in german linguistics as well, i would be very curious to see these letters once too.

    Thanks for this interesting post.

  6. Is Mr Word referring specifically to the Suetterline Script?

    Was the material analyzed by the Moravians?

  7. Care Frater L.e.N.E.,

    How interesting, as Dr. Word was only last night suggesting that we have some of the members of the HOGD/AO in Germany have a look at these letters as well.

    This will still nonetheless require independent verification or our findings will likely never be accepted by the Howe/Gilbert/Farrell/Zalewski camps.