This is one of three files on five members of the
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the 1890s, who were related to each other:
This file is about the five of them in the GD. One of the other files is about their families. The other is about St Edmundsbury Weavers, the firm which Edmund and Dorothea Hunter owned and ran between 1901 and the late 1920s.
Here they are, in order of initiation:
Harriette Dorothea Butler was initiated in March 1893 and chose a Latin motto that reflected the fact that she was always known as Dorothea – ‘Deo date’. Also initiated during that month, probably in the same ritual, were Marceline Hennequin; Reena Little who is better known by her second married name, Fulham Hughes; and Herbert Crossley Morris. Dorothea progressed quickly through the learning stages of the GD was initiated into its inner, 2nd Order in 1894. She became known within the Order as a good clairvoyant and in 1901 was put in charge of teaching clairvoyance to new initiates.
Edmund Arthur Hunter was initiated in August 1895, taking the Latin motto ‘Hora et semper’. His progress through the study material to the 2nd Order wasn’t quite as quick as Dorothea Butler’s but he was given the 2nd Order initiation in December 1896. A professional designer, he did some design work (gratis of course) for members of the Order. A drawing by Edmund of The Tower Struck by Lightning was probably done while he was working towards the 4=7 Grade exams; he sketched it out in his GD notebook.
On 8 April 1896, Dorothea Butler married Edmund Hunter. Both Dorothea and Edmund were active members of the GD in the late 1890s; though they had both left it by June 1902.
Edmund Hunter’s sister Amy Turner was initiated in November 1895 and chose the Latin motto ‘Veritatem peto’. She too became a 2nd Order member, being initiated in April 1897. She didn’t take any active part in all the upheavals in the Order in the late 1890s; but – particularly with Edmund and Dorothea leaving the GD around 1901/02 - I think that she was probably no longer a member by mid-1903.
In November 1898, Fanny Beatrice Hunter was initiated, on the same day as Alice Maud Stracey, Lizzie Morris and Aleister Crowley. Fanny chose the Latin motto ‘Beata est veritas’. Fanny was the first cousin of Amy and Edmund Hunter; their fathers were brothers and business partners. Despite being a working woman she must have found the time to do the study necessary to qualify for the 2nd Order – she was a member of the Sphere Group (see below for more on that) which was only open to those who had achieved that second initiation.
The last of the five is Dorothea Butler’s sister Chris Cohen. She was initiated on 29 November 1900 in the same ritual as Keppel Archibald Cameron Creswell. As with Keppel Creswell who was known as Archie; so with Chris Cohen, who had been born Mary Ann Louise Butler. It’s not likely that Chris would have continued as a GD member after Dorothea and Edmund left the Order.
Amy, Fanny and Chris were not in either of the GD’s main daughter orders, Stella Matutina and the Independent and Rectified Rite; both of which started out in 1903.
This file is mostly about Dorothea and Edmund. That’s not to say that Amy and Fanny Beatrice weren’t keen members of the GD (though I don’t think Chris was). It’s just that more information has survived about Dorothea and Edmund.
I am always curious to know how the GD members found out the Order existed: it was supposed to be a secret. Usually, I never discover how they came to know about it but in Dorothea Butler’s case, it’s quite clear: Dorothea stated that it was W B Yeats who recommended her to the GD’s founders as a prospective member.
Dorothea and W B Yeats were very distantly related, but the families didn’t meet until Dorothea’s family went to live in Chiswick, in 1889 or 1890. W B Yeats was initiated into the GD in March 1890 as ‘Demon est deus inversus’ (DEDI) and invited many acquaintances to join. Dorothea’s mid-20th century reminiscences of her friendship with Yeats, and their time in the GD, are an important source for Yeats’ interest in magic as well as the history of the Order.
Sources for this section:
Golden Dawn initiations:
R A Gilbert The Golden Dawn Companion Wellingborough Northants: The Aquarian Press. 1986. Initiations: Yeats p144; Dorothea pp150-51; Edmund and Amy p155; Fanny p159; Chris p161.
Date of talk by Colonel Olcott: Light: A
Journal of Psychical Occult and Mystical Research volume IX
The relationship between the
Plenty of evidence for that, because by the late 1940s, Yeats scholars were writing to Dorothea for news of his early years, and she responded with long and detailed letters, and the beginnings of an autobiography:
Yeats’s Golden Dawn by George Mills Harper, who was in touch with Dorothea
Yeats and Women editor Deirdre Toomey. 2nd edition Macmillan Press Ltd 1997. Dorothea occupies Chapter 3: “The Music of Heaven”, by Warwick Gould, who was writing too late to have direct contact with Dorothea but did get information from her grandson John Michael Hunter. On p125 note 4: ref to Edmund Hunter’s The Tower Struck by Lightning. On p155 a description of the wall hanging The Tree of Life; and also of the Tower Struck by Lightning as the “intersection of the paths between Hod and Netzach and Yesod and Tipareth”.
Other information on The Tower Struck by Lightning:
The Fool’s Journey: the History, Art and Symbolism of the Tarot by Robert M Place 2010. On p99 Place notes that The Tower’s incorporation into the tarot pack was quite late: packs from the 15th century don’t include it.
See also YeatsVision.blogspot.com’s item The Unicorn
Light: A Journal of Psychical Occult and
Mystical Research volume IX
There’s a Bedford Park Society now (2018) but it’s a residents’ association, formed in 1963 to preserve the architecture and character of Norman Shaw’s much-imitated housing estate.
Florence Farr, Bernard Shaw’s New Woman by Josephine Johnson. Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1971.
Chapter Hammersmith and
Collected Letters of W B Yeats volume 11 1896-1900: pp665-666.
P478 in 1899 WBY founded a lit debating society called The Fellowship of the Three Kings; p478 n2 Dorothea Hunter used to go to the mtgs.
Dorothea got her first taste of the occult through the Chiswick Lodge of the TS, which she joined in March 1892. Her sponsor was future GD member Frederick Leigh Gardner, who actually joined the GD after Dorothea did, not being a friend of Yeats. Gardner was a TS member of long-standing and founder of the Chiswick Lodge, which used to meet at his and his wife Miriam’s house at 37 Barrowgate Road. Though I seem to have missed Edmund’s joining date when I was going through the TS Membership Registers, he was a member by May 1895. In the mid-1890s the TS was going through a period of bitter in-fighting in the wake of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s death. Dorothea, Edmund and the Gardners were amongst the many who let their membership lapse during that period. It seems, in any case, that Dorothea and Edmund preferred the western esoteric tradition which was the focus of the GD. They were both active High Church Christians.
Frederick and Miriam Gardner: Theosophical Society
Membership Register January 1889-September 1891 p107 with a note that
Dorothea: Theosophical Society Membership Register
September 1891-January 1893 p81: Dorothy (sic)
Frederick Gardner’s GD initiation: RAG p152 20 March 1894; his wife Miriam was never a member.
Theosophical Society Membership Register March1895-June 1898 p28 has Edmund sponsoring the application for membership of Florence Lilian Maitinsky (sic) 30 May 1895.
In my sweep through the TS membership registers from 1889 to 1900, I didn’t come across applications from Amy, Fanny or Chris.
DOROTHEA: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GD
Almost no statements have survived on how its members viewed the GD: what it meant to them. However, in a letter to Richard Ellman in November 1946, Dorothea did describe what it meant to her. She had seen it – perhaps still saw it - as a revival of the medieval orders of Christian mystics; though with the important difference that it allowed in people of differing religious beliefs, letting them each seek the philosopher’s stone in their own way.
In her early years in the GD, Dorothea was “diffident and shy”, overawed by the knowledge shown by its more experienced members. She saw the GD as “my university”, her training in “the great traditions of occultism and mysticism”; and its senior members, therefore, as her professors.
Yeats and Women editor Deirdre Toomey. 2nd edition Macmillan Press Ltd 1997. Dorothea occupies Chapter 3: “The Music of Heaven”, by Warwick Gould: p83, p121 note 30.
Richard Ellman was in the process of writing his Yeats:
The Man and the Masks, published
Most learning in the GD was done by way of copying
manuscripts. GD founder William Wynn Westcott, and GD member William Alexander
Ayton, were generous about lending items from their occult manuscript
collections. Most of these copies were for the member’s own use and haven’t
survived, but one or two have made their way into the various GD collections.
In 1895, Dorothea transcribed Chiefs and Officers of a
R A Gilbert’s GD Companion p79.
Freemasons’ Library Golden Dawn Collection GBR 1991 GD 2/1/13 though the artist is unknown. Dorothea is the FML’s suggestion but I would have thought Edmund was the more likely artist.
Yeats and Women editor Deirdre Toomey. 2nd ed Macmillan Press
Ltd 1997. Dorothea occupies Chapter 3: “The Music of Heaven”, by Warwick Gould:
p101, p118 footnote 3, p119 footnote 1. The Hunter papers are part of the
Richard Ellman Papers now in the McFarlin Library,
THE GD IN THE LATE 1890s, which for Dorothea and Edmund were interrupted by the consequences of marriage on a small budget: Edmund was working as a designer; and Dorothea had two children – Ralph, born early in 1897; and Alec, born spring 1899.
As with any close-knit group of very different people, the GD was subject to personality clashes. In addition, as the 1890s progressed, the Order’s ordinary members grew in experience and confidence, and challenged the authority of the GD’s founders, Samuel Liddell Mathers and William Wynn Westcott more often.
The first indications of trouble in store came with the EXPULSION OF ANNIE HORNIMAN in December 1896-January 1897.
In her first years as a member, Dorothea felt it was not her place, as one of its youngest initiates, to take part in the controversies that arose. When Samuel Mathers expelled Annie Horniman from the Order, though, she felt moved to protest, albeit on a modest scale: she signed the petition Frederick Leigh Gardner was organising to get Mathers to change his mind. She knuckled down – like all the others who signed it – when Mathers reacted furiously to it and made the matter of Annie Horniman one of obedience of Order members to his authority. A bridge had been crossed, however, and by 1900 Dorothea thought very differently about the Order’s two-man (after 1897, one-man, absentee-landlord) rule.
Though Edmund and Amy were members of the GD by the time Annie was ejected, they didn’t sign the petition. Their private thoughts about the incident are unknown but Edmund, also, had reservations about the leadership of Mathers, by 1900.
Yeats and Women editor Deirdre Toomey. 2nd edition Macmillan Press Ltd 1997. Dorothea occupies Chapter 3: “The Music of Heaven”, by Warwick Gould: p83.
Magicians of the GD: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923 by Ellic Howe. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd 1972: p143 list of people signing the petition to save Annie.
Evidence of Dorothea’s skills as a clairvoyant and as a clairaudient is difficult to date, mostly because those writing accounts of it for the use of other GD members didn’t think of the trials of future historians: they didn’t write the date on their manuscripts. One manuscript has been lost in any case; it’s only known now from a typescript of it made in 1923. It’s a series of visions by Reena Fulham Hughes, Annie Horniman, Henrietta Paget, Amy Turner, and Dorothea, all on the same subject: how the founding documents of the GD were used during the Middle Ages. Dorothea’s visions on this subject had come to her “clairvoyantly”; presumably the other visionaries were using a different technique.
More is known about Dorothea’s Sword Visions, because Dorothea had them at Yeats’ behest, and he wrote down what she reported that she saw. Put into a trance by Yeats, Dorothea told him she had travelled to Eden and heard noises coming from inside a tree which she first thought were music, but later decided were more like the sound of clashing swords. I think this vision session was part of Yeats’ Celtic Myths explorations, of 1897-98. Yeats saw Dorothea’s presence in his Celtic Myths group as key; because of her clairvoyant skills – which Yeats didn’t have - because she knew her William Blake, and because she was Irish.
In the FML’s GD Collection there’s a manuscript notebook, into which Dorothea wrote some notes on clairvoyance. Nothing in the notebook is dated but a likely time for Dorothea’s contribution is after April 1900 when she was given overall responsibility for teaching clairvoyance in the Isis-Urania temple. In February 1901, she gave a talk on the subject to 2nd Order members.
The founding documents:
R A Gilbert The Golden Dawn Companion Wellingborough Northants: The Aquarian Press. 1986: pp28-29. The date of the original Ms is unknown but I’d suggest the visions were done during 1900. The question of whether the founding of the GD was based on documents presented as old but actually recent fakes, was a burning issue for the GD, from about February 1900. Annie Horniman was not a GD member from December 1896 to March 1900.
The Sword Visions and the Celtic myths:
Yeats and Women editor Deirdre Toomey. 2nd edition Macmillan Press Ltd 1997. Dorothea occupies Chapter 3: “The Music of Heaven”, by Warwick Gould: pp84-85. Gould suggested a date for these of after Dorothea’s 2nd Order initiation (15 June 1894); because this kind of astral travelling was only permitted to 2nd Order members. Gould’s account doesn’t mention that GD member Harriet Butler also took part in the sword visions sessions, but R A Gilbert does.
R A Gilbert The Golden Dawn Companion Wellingborough Northants: The Aquarian Press. 1986. p179. About the other GD member to be called Harriet Butler: p154, GD motto ‘A posse ad esse’; she was initiated in April 1895 and became a 2nd Order member in July 1896. Following Gould’s reasoning, the date for the visions has to be after Harriet Butler’s 2nd Order initiation.
The Celtic Myths; but see more in the section SUBGROUPS below.
Yeats and Women editor Deirdre Toomey. 2nd edition Macmillan Press Ltd 1997. Dorothea occupies Chapter 3: “The Music of Heaven”, by Warwick Gould: pp94-96 and p125 note 85 for Dorothea’s talk on clairvoyance, given 9 February 1901.
Freemasons’ Library Golden Dawn Collection GBR 1991 GD/2/1/5. This is a set of Manuscripts, in different handwriting, on different subjects, and all undated. Dorothea Butler or Hunter has contributed some notes on clairvoyance.
1897-1901/02 – THE SUBGROUPS IN THE GD
In the late 1890s a number of sub-groups came together to investigate particular areas of magical interest; some entirely comprised of GD members; one, possibly more, having in it both GD members and people who were – at least in theory – completely unaware of the GD’s existence. Dorothea and Edmund were active and enthusiastic members of two of these subgroups: the group Yeats brought together to try to recreate a Celtic mythology; and Florence Farr’s Sphere Group.
Late in 1897, Yeats brought together a group which he called the Celtic Order. He hoped that each member of the Order would attempt to rediscover the myths and religion of old Ireland, using whatever techniques they felt they were good at. Edmund, for example, drew and coloured a large wall hanging on The Tree of Life, incorporating symbolism from the Kabbalah, tarot and astrology in one design. Yeats still had it at his death.
Some of the Celtic Order’s members were not in the GD, including Maud Gonne’s sister Kathleen Pilcher, who did become a GD member but not until 1900. Yeats also recruited his uncle, GD member George Pollexfen (a skilled astrologer); Annie Horniman (not strictly a GD member at the time), Dorothea and Edmund Hunter; and even Samuel and Mina Mathers to the cause. Dorothea and Edmund were wanted by Yeats to form a group which would use the astral travelling technique to ‘visit’ the Irish myths in action. Members of the group met at least twice. On 29 December 1897, the Hunters, Ada Waters, William Forsell Kirby and Mary Briggs got together at the 2nd Order’s rooms. After a Celtic inspired invocation, devised by Yeats, they focused their minds on Connla’s Well. There was a second meeting 1 January 1898, probably at the Hunters’ house, 45 Stile Hall Road; with Dorothea and Edmund joined by Kirby, Briggs; and by Yeats and Florence Farr. It’s not known what the focus of the second meeting was; nor if the group ever met again. A manuscript in Dorothea’s handwriting on the subject of The Three Bridgets is the result of astral travelling sessions, perhaps in Yeats’ group as it fits well with the Celtic Order’s aims. The myths of Saint Bridget also had a personal meaning for Dorothea – later, she and Edmund called their house in Letchworth, St Brighid’s.
Florence Farr’s Egyptian Group – which turned into the Sphere Group – consisted only of GD 2nd Order members. It started out as a forum for those interested in Egyptian magic – Florence was considered an expert. Later, its members followed a programme of concentrated meditation on a particular symbol, from Sunday at noon for one hour, focusing first on the members of the group but moving outwards to encompass the planets and constellations before returning to homebase. Sometimes the group met at the 2nd Order’s rooms, but individual members could also join in from their homes. Originally the symbol was Egyptian, but later it was a sphere – hence the group’s names. It’s thought that the group was working from 1898 to 1901. Dorothea and Edmund were both members of it; and so was Fanny Beatrice Hunter.
The Celtic Order:
Kathleen Pilcher’s initiation date was 13 July 1900: R A Gilbert’s GD Companion p160.
Edmund Hunter’s wall hanging: W B Yeats: A Life. Book 1: The Apprentice Mage by Robert Fitzroy Foster. Oxford University Press 1997 p186.
The tree of life is the basis of the Kabbalah, another subject which occupied Yeats throughout his life. In the late 1990s the wall hanging was still owned by Yeats’ son Michael.
I’m sure both Yeats and Edmund knew that the tree of life had been the basis of art and design for centuries. See an illustration of a tree of life tapestry woven for the coronation of Roger II of Sicily as one of the illustrations in an article by Frances Pritchard of the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester: All That Glistens is not Gold. See the article at www.thetextilessociety.org.uk.
The Letters of W B Yeats editor Allan Wade. London: Rupert Hart-Davis 1954: p293 – letter to Dorothea, as “Dear Mrs Hunter”, with arrangements for the meeting of the Celtic Order on 1 January 1898. Yeats names the other people who would also be there: Osman Edwards; Sarojini Chattopadyay; “Mrs Emery” - Florence Farr, the only GD member on this list; Miss Alma Tadema; and Arthur Symons. Yeats asked Dorothea and Edmund to come early, so they could talk over “a certain part of our Celtic project in which you can be a great help”. On p294 January 1898; and p296 February 1898, March 1898, Yeats mentions the Celtic Order project in letters to George Russell but by p300 the letters are from June 1898 and this edition at least doesn’t have any further mention of it.
Collected Letters of W B Yeats volume 11 1896-1900: pp665-666. These letters mention Dorothea (but not Edmund), Mary Briggs and his uncle George Pollexfen as GD members essential to the Celtic Order project.
Yeats and Women editor Deirdre Toomey. 2nd edition Macmillan Press Ltd 1997. Dorothea occupies Chapter 3: “The Music of Heaven”, by Warwick Gould: pp93-98. On p124 note 77: Dorothea’s account of The Three Bridgets is now in the National Library of Ireland’s Yeats Collection. On p125 note 84: Edmund’s The Tower Struck by Lightning.
The only account of the Sphere Group was compiled by member Robert Willliam Felkin in 1902. His notes included a list of its members. Two modern references both use Felkin’s account:
Cauda Pavonis was the newsletter/journal of the Hermetic Text Society. At www.alchemywebsite.com/cauda.html there is a list of articles published in it. It was issued by the Department of English, Washington State University at Pullman. In Volumes 11-16 1992 pp7-12: article by Sharon E Cogdill on Florence Farr’s Egyptian, later Sphere, Group.
Magicians of the GD: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923 by Ellic Howe. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd 1972: p234, pp250-52.
Most GD members had joined the Order on the understanding that it was the latest in a line of such orders going back hundreds of years and transmitting knowledge that was very ancient. So when, in February 1901, Florence Farr received a letter from founder Samuel Liddell Mathers announcing that all the Order’s founding documents were 19th-century fakes, it precipitated a crisis. Mathers told Florence to keep the news a secret – so why tell her at all? - but she decided she really couldn’t do that, and told some close friends what Mathers was saying. Dorothea and Edmund were two of those close friends. A committee was formed to investigate whether Mathers’ shocking allegations were true. It didn’t actually reach any conclusion on the matter, but while the investigations were in progress, a problem arose about Aleister Crowley.
For various reasons, the senior members of the Isis-Urania temple had refused to give Crowley a 2nd Order initiation. So he went to Paris and was initiated by Mathers. Back in London, he wrote asking to be sent manuscripts reserved for 2nd Order members; and it was Dorothea who wrote back on behalf of Isis-Urania temple, saying that the temple members still wouldn’t accept him as a 2nd Order member. From there the crisis turned into a struggle for possession of the 2nd Order’s ritual rooms and library at 36 Blythe Road Hammersmith: Crowley and several other 2nd Order members attempting to seize them and their contents on Mathers’ behalf; and the committee of Florence Farr’s friends trying to keep them out. Eventually, Florence Farr, as the named lessee, was proved to have the only right to the rooms and their contents. But in the meantime, around mid-April 1900, the struggle involved Crowley and accomplices breaking in and changing the locks; physical confrontations between Crowley and 2nd Order members; and the calling of the police on two occasions.
Dorothea took no part in the struggle, but Edmund was called to 36 Blythe Road twice to try to stop Crowley gaining access – probably because he worked nearby; but also possibly because he was known to be a good boxer. On the second occasion, W B Yeats was summoned as well, again because he wouldn’t take long to arrive. Later, Edmund wrote an account of what had happened on the two occasions he’d encountered Crowley at 36 Blythe Road; it was considered at a 2nd Order meeting a few days later, with momentous consequences. Annie Horniman was welcomed back to the GD and those who had lost the struggle for Blythe Road - Mathers, Crowley and several others who had helped them - were expelled from it. A Council was set up to rule the GD in Mathers’ place. Edmund was elected its Warden; and Dorothea was in a group of people given the task of teaching new initiates, taking responsibility for clairvoyance. As Warden it was Edmund’s job to inform Mathers and his accomplices of their expulsion and the FML GD Collection has a snide reply to him from Dr Edward Berridge, who had lent Crowley his set of keys to the 2nd Order rooms.
There’s a good account of what went on in Magicians of the GD: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923 by Ellic Howe. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd 1972.
Dorothea’s memories of what happened, written down many years later, appear in Yeats and Women editor Deirdre Toomey. 2nd ed Macmillan Press Ltd 1997. Dorothea occupies Chapter 3: “The Music of Heaven”, by Warwick Gould. Edmund’s boxing skills are mentioned on pp103-104 but Gould says that Edmund had “nightly boxing sessions” with Mathers; this can’t be true, with Mathers living in Paris and Edmund working in London. On pp104-05, p127 footnote 127 Gould covers the legal end to the Blythe Road incident: a case for assault, begun by Crowley, which didn’t get any further than Hammersmith Police Court. Gould’s knowledge came from a letter written by Dorothea in October 1946.
Freemasons’ Library Golden Dawn Collection GBR 1991 2/4/3/5: minutes of the meeting of 3 March 1900.
Freemasons’ Library Golden Dawn Collection GBR 1991 2/4/3/2: letter from Percy William Bullock to Samuel Mathers announcing the investigation and naming the committee members.
Yeats’s Golden Dawn by George Mills Harper. New York: Barnes and Noble, imprint of Harper and Row Publishers Inc 1974: p167 for Dorothea as writing to refuse Crowley 2nd Order papers.
Freemasons’ Library Golden Dawn Collection GBR 1991. The struggle for possession of the 2nd Order rooms at 26 Blythe Road:
- GD 2/4/3/10 is the item that started the struggle: a request from Aleister Crowley to be loaned the 2nd Order manuscripts due to new initiates. He announces that he already has some of the documents and that he has been initiated into the 2nd Order in Paris by Mathers
- GD 2/4/3/19 letter from Maud Cracknell probably to Edmund Hunter 7 April 1900; about her encounter with Aleister Crowley at the 2nd Order rooms in Blythe Road
- GD 2/4/3/23 letter from Julian Baker to Edmund Hunter 19 April 1900 about arrangements to keep the 2nd Order’s paraphernalia out of Crowley’s hands
- GD 2/4/3/25 April 1900: minutes of the 2nd Order meeting that expelled from the GD Samuel Liddell Mathers, Aleister Crowley, Edward Berridge and others
- GD 2/4/3/24a reply by Berridge to a letter from Edmund Hunter informing him of his expulsion
- GD 2/4/3/34a-b: letter undated by sender but with note 20-21 April 1900: recipient unknown but possibly Edmund Hunter. Due to a mix-up with GD mottos, sender wrongly identified in the catalogue as Lina Rowan Hamilton; sender is almost certainly Elaine Simpson
- GD 2/4/3/30 printed circular 23 April 1900 issued by Aleister Crowley as Mathers’ envoy; with a list of names of GD members expelled by Mathers; including Dorothea and Edmund Hunter.
RA Gilbert’s GD Companion pp77-79.
ANNIE, YEATS AND THE SUB-GROUPS 1901
Officially back in the GD after several years, Annie Horniman she started to go through the Isis-Urania temple’s administration and rituals like a new broom, and discovered the existence of the sub-groups. She was horrified, seeing them as opening up the possibility of psychic attack; and as breaking the basic rule of the occult that no one should be given knowledge from higher levels of initiation than they had so far reached. Yeats backed her up and between them they made such a fuss that a meeting of the Isis-Urania temple was called, in February 1901, to thrash the matter out.
Annie and Yeats had not been active in the GD during the period the sub-groups had grown up; and they never understood how much the sub-groups’ members valued them and how much they got from them. Before the meeting took place, a number of members signed a document saying that they would leave the GD if the sub-groups were not allowed to continue. Edmund was one of those who signed; though Dorothea, Amy and Fanny Beatrice didn’t go as far as doing so, and Chris was too new a member to have been invited to join any. The result of the meeting was worse than a stalemate: the sub-groups were allowed to continue, but rules were agreed that made the practical working of them almost impossible. In the months that followed, Annie continued to rage against even the idea of sub-groups; and many of their most enthusiastic members left the Order.
Freemasons’ Library Golden Dawn Collection GBR 1991 GD 2/4/6/1 February 1901: notes in preparation for the GD meeting on sub-groups. With a list of the complaints Annie and Yeats were making. And a list of those GD members who would leave the Order if the sub-groups were not allowed to continue.
Collected Letters of W B Yeats volume III 1901-04 p32 footnote 4 lists the group of 12 against whose ideas about sub-groups Yeats and Annie Horniman fought in 1901. All the twelve were in Florence Farr’s Sphere Group.
Yeats’s Golden Dawn by George Mills Harper. New York: Barnes and Noble, imprint of Harper and Row Publishers Inc 1974: p96, p121.
DOROTHEA AND EDMUND LEAVE THE GD
The Butlers and Hunters all seem to have left during the period immediately after the meeting on sub-groups. However, the unsatisfactory outcome of the meeting was not the main reason why Dorothea and Edmund ceased to be active members: see my file on St Edmundsbury Weavers for more important changes in their lives around that time. Dorothea and Edmund were the most active of the five Butlers and Hunters in the GD; and I don’t think the other three women stayed long after they ceased to go to the meetings. None of the five joinedthe Independent and Rectified Rite or Stella Matutina, the two daughter orders of the GD that were set up in 1903.
Dorothea’s friendship with Yeats had been harder to keep up in the late 1890s, as he was spending so much time in Ireland; but the Yeats papers at the National Library of Ireland include the horoscopes of Edmund and his two sons (though not Dorothea), perhaps done as a set after Alec’s birth in 1899. However, Yeats taking sides with Annie over the sub-groups opened up a rift that was difficult to bridge. After Dorothea left the GD, she and Edmund did not see Yeats, or even correspond, for several decades.
Collected Letters of W B Yeats volume IV 1905-1907. Editors John Kelly and Ronald Schuchard. Published Oxford University Press 2005. Just as an example: there are no letters to or from any of the Hunters in this volume.
Yeats’s Golden Dawn by George Mills Harper. New York: Barnes and Noble, imprint of Harper and Row Publishers Inc 1974: p96.
Yeats and Women editor Deirdre Toomey. 2nd ed Macmillan Press Ltd 1997. Dorothea occupies Chapter 3: “The Music of Heaven”, by Warwick Gould: pp118 note 3, p119 note 1. Through Dorothea’s grandson John Hunter, Gould discovered that Dorothea had written a memoir for her grandchildren. She had also kept the drafts of letters she wrote to Richard Ellman, the final versions of which are now in the Richard Ellmann Papers, McFarlin Library University of Tulsa. It’s on those that Chapter 3 is based. There are very few other papers – on p122 note 46 Gould notes the family tradition of having a great clear-out of stuff when moving house.
BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.
The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert. Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986. Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914. The list is based on the Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its Members’ Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation. All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden. Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh were destroyed in 1900/01. I have recently (July 2014) discovered that some records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have survived, though most have not; however those that have survived are not yet accessible to the public.
For the history of the GD during the 1890s I usually use Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923. Published Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972. Foreword by Gerald Yorke. Howe is a historian of printing rather than of magic; he also makes no claims to be a magician himself, or even an occultist. He has no axe to grind.
Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.
Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.
Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette. Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.
For the GD members who were freemasons, the membership database of the United Grand Lodge of England is now available via Ancestry: it gives the date of the freemason’s first initiation; and the craft lodges he was a member of.
To take careers in craft freemasonry further, the website of the the Freemasons’ Library is a good resource: //freemasonry.london.museum. Its catalogue has very detailed entries and the website has all sorts of other resources.
You can get from the pages to a database of freemasons’ newspapers and magazines, digitised to 1900. You can also reach that directly at www.masonicperiodicals.org.
Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources. I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.
To put contemporary prices and incomes into perspective, I have used www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare which Roger Wright found for me. To help you interpret the ‘today’ figure, measuringworth gives several options. I pick the ‘historic standard of living’ option which is usually the lowest, often by a considerable margin!
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
8 October 2018
Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: