Henrietta Paget was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London on 22 March 1892. She was Florence Farr’s sister so the only suprise about her joining the GD was that she had left it so long: Florence had been initiated in July 1890. Unlike Florence, though, Henrietta was managing a household with four young children in it and only one live-in servant. Two other people were initiated on the same evening as Henrietta, though I’m not sure she knew either of them beforehand: Pamela Carden, whose parents were already members and who later married GD member Percy William Bullock; and Thomas Smith, a friend of Sidney Coryn who had been initiated in September 1891.


Her domestic duties meant that Henrietta took longer than some to make her way through the study required to be eligible for the GD’s 2nd Order – the inner circle where you could begin to do some practical magic. For reasons that I hope to make clear, she was anxious to join the inner order, so she did the study-work despite her other commitments, and was initiated into it on 13 March 1894.


A few months after Henrietta’s second initiation, her husband Henry Marriott Paget joined the GD: he was initiated at the Isis-Urania temple in September 1894. He chose the Latin motto In Deo Sumus. Unlike Henrietta and Florence Farr, he wasn’t an enthusiastic member and never made it to the GD’s 2nd Order. I suggest that he may have been asked to take the initiation to ensure his silence. With a wife in the Order, a sister-in-law who was one of its main ritualists and many friends who were members, by 1894 he probably knew too much for the peace of mind of the GD’s hierarchy.


The rest of this file is about Henrietta.


On joining the GD, Henrietta chose the Latin motto Dum Spiro Spero (often shortened to DSS). In 1888 a series of articles and one poem had been published by someone using ‘dum spriro spero’ as a pseudonym. Occam’s Razor: I’m going to assume that Henrietta wrote the articles and the poem. I do have one piece of corroborating evidence from a contemporary source: when writing a letter criticising one of Dum Spiro Spero’s articles, Isabel de Steiger gave away the fact that she knew the writer was a woman; she and Henrietta were living round the corner from each other at the time.



Initiation dates are in R A Gilbert’s GD Companion – see the main Sources section at the end of this file.



This poem, credited to Dum Spiro Spero, appeared in the new theosophical magazine Lucifer in January 1888:


Self-Mastery (A Sonnet)


O! for the power to lay this burden low!

This weight of self; to kill all vain desire

To clasp to our outer selves the scorching fire,

So that the God within shall live and grow!

O! for the strength to face the hidden foe,

To raise our being higher still and higher,

To breathe the breath that Holy ones inspire,

To break the bonds that bind to Earth below!


Great, Infinite Soul! That broodeth o’er us ever,

Say, can the human will unaided* win

The Victor’s crown (and earthly bondage sever),

- A Heavenly flight, triumphant over sin?

O Human and Divine, forsake us never,

Thine is the power by which we enter in.


* - DSS’s italics.


I thought I would print the poem – the only one published by Henrietta and perhaps the only one she ever wrote – because it sums up Henrietta’s feelings during a period of great spiritual turmoil. She had come through it and, optimistic after what sounds like several years of pessimism, she wanted to share some of her hard-won new ideas with others. She wrote a four-part article suggesting a way of bringing together Christianity, theosophy and spiritualism. She submitted the article to the spiritualist magazine Light, probably in time for it to be off her hands by the time her third child, Ferrand Paget, was born early in 1888.



Light seemed to Henrietta to be the right place to publicise her new vision – it described itself as a journal of psychical, occult and mystical enquiry. Henrietta was certainly reading it in 1888 and had perhaps been a reader for several years. Her four-part article, called The Unity of Religions, was published between May and June 1888, with a suggestion printed at the top of each part that readers have their New Testament to hand, to follow up or check out the points she was making. Future GD member Isabel de Steiger was a regular writer of letters and articles for Light and wrote two of the many comments on Henrietta’s article that were printed in it. Replies from Henrietta were published in Light at the end of the year, after she had spent several months in careful consideration of the points that had been raised.



See my life-by-date files on Isabel for more information on her. Here I’ll say that since 1886 Isabel had been living at 3 Woodstock Road Bedford Park, a short walk from the Pagets’ house at 1 The Orchard. They had several friends in common and are bound to have encountered each other at events in Bedford Park’s lively social scene. I think the two women knew each other, but were never close. An experienced occultist by the late 1880s, Isabel was initiated into the GD in October 1888.


What Henrietta was hoping for was what she called a “union between the most ennobling and exalting Spiritualism and Mysticism of to-day and the Divinely instituted...Kingdom of Jesus Christ upon earth”; by which she meant Christianity, spiritualism and theosophy. She wrote bravely of her own period of “honest doubt” which had soon turned to “despairing unbelief”. Searching for something she could believe in, she had made what she called a “slight” study of spiritualism and had also looked into Eastern mysticism. Neither of them had given her enough to replace her lost faith, but she had discovered that their basic principles could also be found in the New Testament. Eventually, after “much wallowing in the mire” Henrietta’s Christian faith returned: she was now back on her “old standing ground” of Anglicanism, certain once again of the existence of God and a Divine Plan for Mankind.


An important point in Henrietta’s return from unbelief to Anglicanism had been reading Edward Lewes Cutts’ Turning Points of General Church History (published 1877). Rev Cutts’ book and Henrietta’s cautious forays into spiritualism and theosophy had convinced her of two things that had stayed with her after her return to Christianity: that what she called the “true Church of Christ” had supernatural origins; and that the life of Jesus was Christianity’s revelation of the Divine. The plan Henrietta now wanted to put forward for the Unity of Religions was that believers in spiritualism and theosophy should join Christians in obeying what she called the two laws of obedience that Jesus had required of his followers: that they should be baptised; and should eat bread and drink wine in memory of Him. The community thus formed could unite around the concept of Jesus as the Perfect Man and receive a new form of revelation of the Divine Plan, which they could then take to a world that was desperately seeking modern ways of believing.


Isabel de Steiger read the first part of Henrietta’s article (in Light’s issue of 19 May 1888) and found in it a lot she disagreed with. She could have gone round to the Pagets’ house and had a chat about it but that was not really her style. Her letter of criticism was published in the same issue as part 4 of Henrietta’s article, on 9 June 1888. It made references to books Henrietta had almost certainly not read, and there were other elements in it that show why the two women were not likely to have been close friends. An austere personality with a dim view of Mankind’s ability to rise above its failings, Isabel wrote that it was unlikely that such a coming-together of rather different beliefs could be realised, at least until Mankind had reached a greater level of spiritual development – progress Isabel believed would take a long time to achieve, if it could be done at all.


Isabel had a habit of leaping in with criticism she later regretted making so trenchantly. In Light’s issue of 7 July 1888 there was a second letter from her on the Unity of Religions. In it Isabel admitted she might have been “unduly opinionated” in her first letter, and thanked Dum Spiro Spero for taking her criticisms in such a generous spirit. She had read and instantly replied to a letter from Henrietta which appeared in Light on 30 June, in which Henrietta had admitted to having little knowledge of theology; and had tried to make it plain that the coming-together of the religions that she envisaged was not a physical thing, but a spiritual one. This was something Isabel could agree with: that the outward trappings of buildings and people gathered in the same room were not as important as common understanding and shared belief.


In part 4 of the Unity of Religions Henrietta considered how her united religions could spread the new revelation – a process she likened to the acts of the Apostles. As the new revelation was a spiritual one, it would have to engage with the supernatural realm, where “wrong or ignorant” use of such powers as the members of the Unity of Religions would receive, might bring upon them “terrors and calamities”. The only protection they would have was the two laws of obedience – the baptism and the bread and wine. Henrietta was particularly insistent on the importance of the bread and wine, and for a specific reason: she mentioned having had a experience of divine revelation while taking communion. She didn’t elaborate on the vision she’d had - perhaps it had been too profound and too personal an experience for her to want to share it with Light’s readers; something she could not even put into words.


I think part 4 of the Unity of Religions was meant to be Henrietta’s last word on the subject. However, the comments on it by Isabel and others printed in Light set her thinking and she also realised she hadn’t emphasised one or two points enough. On 28 July 1888 Light printed a letter from her headed Sorrow and Strength in which she warned those who were seeking that modern divine revelation that it was not going to be easy – another point on which she and Isabel de Steiger could agree. Henrietta wrote that “without travail there is no birth, without anguish no illumination” (Henrietta’s italics) and urged seekers to embrace “the fiery cross of suffering” - something the poems shows she had experienced herself – until their own will was united with that of God.


A letter in Light from a man signing himself “A Church of England Clergyman” caused Henrietta to prepare a part 5 of the Unity of Religions, which was published in Light’s issue of 17 November 1888. She wrote in some excitement that his letter had made her see how the “reverent communion of souls” that she envisaged could – if they came together as she had described in parts 1 to 4 – receive “great outpourings” of the power of Jesus’ spirit, with which they could attempt to tackle “some of the terribly perplexing problems of our time”. After sending that article off to the offices of Light, she realised again that she might not have explained herself properly, so she wrote a letter-style follow-up which was published on 15 December 1888. She wanted to make plain that the members of her reverent communion of souls must not expect to receive those great outpourings of spirit: they could only hope to be so blessed, and seek that blessing through prayer and fasting, “a little – daily, hourly”.


While reading the issue of 15 December 1888 Henrietta noticed a letter of a kind that was published fairly often in spiritualist magazines: a Miss Elizabeth Nutt had written to Light to announce the cure of her lame leg – it had been much shorter than her other one since childhood – a cure that was sworn to be true and genuine by two other signatories of the letter. The cure had resulted, Miss Nutt claimed, from a session of laying on of hands, at the practice rooms of Mr Milner Stephen at 51 Baker Street. The letter made Henrietta very anxious about the source of Mr Stephen’s gifts. Her response, published on 22 December 188, was to state her belief that Jesus was the only “dependable” (Henrietta’s italics) source of such powers. The laying on of hands was one of Jesus’ gifts to His followers and Henrietta gave details of where in the New Testament readers could look for the evidence. Henrietta was aware that there were a lot of practitioners who did not acknowledge that their gift was from God. She had already suggested in her Unity of Religions that such an attitude could lead to Black Magic and this latest letter had been written to make that point again.



And then, she stopped writing! The publications of 1888 are the only time Henrietta felt the urge to share her beliefs with the spiritualist public at large. I did a sweep through Light from 1881-90 plus 1894, 1897 and 1900. The writer Dum Spiro Spero appears in 1888 but no other year and Henrietta didn’t publish anything under her own name.


The Pagets were not prominent in the occult social circles of the time. I didn’t see any of the family – I include Florence Farr - mentioned in Light as having been at any of the monthly talks organised in London by the London Spiritualist Alliance, its predecessors and successors. I also couldn’t find any membership details for any of the Pagets in the membership records of the Theosophical Society. Florence Farr did join the TS but not until after leaving the GD in 1902.



The poem: Lucifer volume 1, p395 issue of 15 January 1888. Lucifer was published in London by the Theosophical Society. You can read the whole volume at


My sweep through Light, whose full title was Light: Journal of Psychical, Occult and Mystical Research. It was published in London by the Eclectic Publishing Co Ltd of 16 Craven St WC; the links between Light’s publiser and the London Spiritualist Alliance were very close. I read through the issues of 1881-90, 1894, 1897 and 1900.

The writings of Dum Spiro Spero: Light volume 8 1888. The Unity of Religions:

Part 1 = pp230-31 issue of Sat 19 May 1888.

Part 2 = pp243-44 issue of 26 May 1888.

Part 3 = pp259-260 issue of 2 June 1888.

It was at this point in DSS’s argument that pp271-72 issue of 9 June 1888 published a long response to Part 1 of it, by Isabel de Steiger.

DSS’s Unity of Religions Part 4 = pp266-68 of issue of 9 June 1888.

On p318 issue of 30 June 1888: letter from DSS: The Unity of Religions.

Isabel’s apology/second letter of response: p329 issue of 7 July 1888.

On p375 issue of 28 July 1888 short letter from DSS: Sorrow and Strength. Teachings from the Over-Mind.

On p571 issue of 17 November 1888 the ‘part 5’ of Unity of Religions.

On p621 issue of 15 December 1888 letter from DSS: Unity of Religions. On its p623 letter from Miss Elizabeth Nutt

On pp634-35 issue of 22 December 1888, letter from DSS: Healing by the Laying On of Hands.

The publication by Rev Edward Lewes Cutts: Turning Points of General Church History London: SPCK 1877. It was a popular work: the British Library also has later editions: 1893, 1895, 1913, 1924; and in 1928 an edition revised and edited by William C Piercy.

Theosophical Membership Registers 1889-1901.


A quick word on Rev Cutts: a wiki on him describes him as an antiquarian and church historian. He was vicar of Holy Trinity Haverstock Hill from 1871 until his death in 1901. In 1876 he had been sent by the SPCK to the Middle East to investigate how its ancient Christian churches were faring in a Muslim empire. His Christians Under the Crescent in Asia was published in 1877. Though Henrietta didn’t mention the book in her Unity of Religions articles, I wonder if she had read Cutts’ 1884 publication A Devotional Life of Jesus Christ.




Nearly four years passed between Dum Spiro Spero’s writings of 1888 and Henrietta’s joining the GD. Henrietta had a fourth child – Geoffrey – in 1890, and her husband’s sister Helen Paget drowned in a boating accident in 1891; both events to give a spiritually-minded woman pause for thought. But if she was finding the time to continue to read Light, what Henrietta will have been disappointed by was the lack of any obvious coming-together of its readers in response to DSS’s articles on the Unity of Religions: Isabel de Steiger’s strictures on the likelihood of such a thing happening soon were being borne out, at least in spiritualist circles.


It was not as if the Pagets’ friends in Bedford Park – where they were living in the 1880s and early 1890s - were likely to join the community Henrietta had in mind. Bedford Park society was artistic and intellectual, and prided itself in being free-thinking and critical of all kinds of spirituality. In 1889 the spiritualist T L Henly and the Theosophical Society’s co-founder Colonel Henry Olcott were both given a rough ride, taking questions after giving talks at the Bedford Park Society. Perhaps Henrietta was there to hear both talks and reflect on how unlikely it was that any of the audience were going to unite around baptism and the bread and wine; or that they would believe that doing so would lead to them receiving spiritual power from Jesus. Though they had probably had an upbringing which involved regular church or chapel-going, the Christianity of most of the men Henrietta knew had lapsed. Some had moved very far from their Christian upbringing – the Pagets’ good friend Frederick York Powell was described by his biographer as a “heathen” - meaning that he believed in the powers of the Norse gods and goddesses.


The religious views of the women Henrietta knew in Bedford Park have not been written about to the same extent. What little evidence I’ve found suggests that they – inevitably - held a range of different spiritual stances, but that none of them shared Henrietta’s particular hopes for the religious future. Some – like Dorothea Butler, the daughter of a vicar – did keep their Christian faith through all the rationalism. There was doubt, though – Isabel de Steiger, for example, had been brought up an Evangelical Christian but never went to church again after her husband died. And some were not particularly concerned with spiritual matters, including – I think – Henrietta’s sister Florence Farr. For Henrietta – who had been through doubt but had come out the other side – the years after her 1888 writings must have been a frustrating and disappointing experience. I think she joined the GD in the hope that she could find her Unity of Religions amongst its members; and you could say that she succeeded.



Bedford Park Society talks and Isabel de Steiger’s changing religious beliefs: see my life-by-dates of Isabel for more information. And for Dorothea Butler and her husband Edmund Hunter – both high-church Anglicans for most of their lives – see my files on them.

For Hugh Fairfax-Cholmeley – a lapsed Catholic, at least in the 1880s and 1890s - see the blog //

Frederick York Powell: A Life and a Selection from his Letters and Occasional Writings. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1906. Edited by York Powell’s friend Oliver Elton. York Power’s belief in heathenism: p29.




Goodness knows what Henrietta had learned before her initiation about the Order of the Golden Dawn and what it did. She wasn’t supposed to have learned anything, of course – the GD and its activities were meant to be a secret. I think, though, that she will have gathered from her sister at least that GD members studied the Jewish and Christian ‘secret wisdom’ mystical traditions, and enacted rituals exercising that secret wisdom; and that the Order was the latest in a series of such orders which had passed the knowledge down, Adept to Initiate, through many centuries. She might also have heard rumours that the Order was now offering membership of an inner group whose members would use magic to contact and – if possible – to control the elemental forces and entities of the cosmos. She probably knew that all those hoping for initiation into the GD had to sign a pledge form which included a religious requirement. The original one from 1888 had required belief in the One God. Henrietta was probably asked to sign the later version, more suitable to the existence of the inner order; it only demanded belief in a Supreme Being, or Beings, but did expect non-Christian candidates to learn Christian symbolism.


I’m suggesting that Henrietta decided to accept the offer of initiation into the GD – the offer almost certainly coming from Florence Farr – in the hope that she would find amongst its members some at least who could be a part of her “reverent communion”, the Unity of Religions.


Henrietta set about the study required of new initiates immediately after her initiation. The study was wide-ranging and you had to take exams in what you had learned: it must have been a challenge for women who had not been allowed the classics-based education that (say) their brothers might have had. Annie Horniman noted in her diary for 21 May 1892 that she had corrected the 5=6 examination papers of several initiates including W B Yeats and Henrietta. All of them had passed, though it was another 18 months of doing occult study in between domestic chores before Henrietta had completed all the necessary work and had joined Florence in the GD’s inner, 2nd Order.


Another thing about the GD that Henrietta must have noticed before she joined it was how much time its members spent together outside official GD meetings. Sometimes people who were not even in the GD were allowed to be involved: on one evening in July 1894 Henrietta went round to Dalling Road to see Florence, who had rooms there. Also there were W B Yeats’ father John Butler Yeats and a man John Yeats described as “some mediumistic chemist’s assistant”. John Yeats was not a member of the GD but during that evening he was allowed to take part in events he later described as “wonderful things happened” – some magic, perhaps? Or elementals from another dimension summoned by the chemist with the mediumistic powers? What a pity that was all John Yeats wrote! On another occasion – which seems just to have been social, not magical - George Bernard Shaw called on Florence in Dalling Road to find Henrietta, Henry Paget and Annie Horniman in her drawing room; Henry was a GD member by this time – at least in theory.


Though she was a stickler for the rules – which made her tiresome at times – most people in the GD liked Annie Horniman and even if they didn’t, they valued the amount of time she gave to the Order in magic and in adminstrative chores. When the GD’s founder and senior magician Samuel Liddell Mathers expelled Annie from the GD in December 1896, there was an outcry, and an attempt to reinstate her that was focused on GD members living within walking distance of Bedford Park. Frederick Leigh Gardner, who lived in Gunnersbury, organised a petition asking Mathers to reconsider. Henrietta probably regarded Annie as a friend, not just a fellow GD member by this time – Annie had financed Florence Farr’s productions of W B Yeats’ The Land of Heart’s Desire and John Todhunter’s The Comedy of Sighs in 1894. On the other hand, it was not very likely that Henrietta looked on Annie as a possible member of her reverent communion – Annie had been brought up a Congregationalist but by the 1890s did not have strong religious beliefs of any kind. Henrietta was happy to sign the petition. Henry Paget didn’t sign it, though he may not have been asked – it was a rather rushed affair and he may not have been at home when Gardner called. The petition brought the kind of response from Mathers that became all-too-familiar over the next four years – he condemned it, refused to allow Annie’s return, and made obedience to this decision a condition of continued GD membership for all those who had signed the petition. As did most of the signatories, Henrietta bowed to Mathers’ demand. Also as did most of the signatories, she continued to have Annie as a friend; some even continued to investigate the occult and do magic with Annie though I didn’t find evidence that Henrietta did so.


In 1897, Samuel Liddell Mathers appointed Florence Farr as his representative in London; Mathers had lived in Paris for several years by this time. Though Henrietta had no official role under Florence, she did give her sister support over the next three years as Florence exercised her authority in the face of a number of challenges. The most important development during Florence’s time in charge was the setting up of a number of sub-groups within the GD of members wanting to pursue particular occult or magical paths. The best-known of these is Florence’s own group, usually known as the Sphere Group.


Henrietta was, of course, a member of the Sphere Group and I think it came nearer than anything else in her life to being the community she had hoped for in her Unity of Religions articles. According to Group member Robert Felkin’s contemporary account of it, there were 12 “mortal” members plus members from the astral and other planes. Florence set the group up in 1898 to study Egyptian symbolism and methods of invoking the Egyptian gods – subjects on which the GD regarded her as an expert. The group did meet at the 2nd Order’s rooms a couple of times but according to Felkin, actual face-to-face meetings weren’t really needed. The members could all do their practice in their own home, though it does seem that they all had to do it at the agreed time of Sundays at noon. Each member had their own globe and concentrated their minds to project particular images onto it; in the middle of the sphere was a “certain Egyptian astral form” chosen by Florence Farr from her own magical practice, and hence the group’s original name, the Egyptian Group. Each of the 12 mortal group members had one station assigned to them around the sphere. In 1901 Florence decided to retire the Egyptian astral form and replace it with a simple sphere; but the actual practice was the same after the change as before.


The practice took one hour and began with each member of the group focusing their mind on the members of the group. Then their thoughts would gradually reach further out into the cosmos – planet, stars - before drawing in again. The psychic energies thus raised were to be concentrated on spiritual growth and purification. Perhaps this intensely-focused meditation was not quite what Henrietta had envisaged for her reverent communion in 1888 but of course she had learned a great deal about the power of the mind since she had joined the GD; and had come together with 11 other people who shared her belief in the importance of the process.


Not much is known about how each GD member organised her or his life as a practising occultist. Members were supposed to keep a diary of their magical practise and there are references to such notebooks existing; but hardly any have survived. In Ellic Howe’s book on the GD in the 1890s there are lists of what individual members were doing when they were in the Order’s consecrated rooms; but only the most general terms are used in his source – for example, use of a talisman to help cure a sick child. There are references in many accounts of the GD to members doing divination – that is, using occult means, especially astrology or the Tarot pack, to try to predict the future, usually in answer to a specific question. In general, though, GD members kept their pledge of secrecy. One or two references to what Henrietta did have leaked out, however, via the letters – now published - and later reminiscences of W B Yeats, and via interviews with Henrietta’s children by Florence Farr’s biographer.


After the Pagets moved to 76 Parkhill Road Haverstock Hill, in 1897, Henrietta used one of its rooms to do her occult study and magical work away from prying eyes. She probably didn’t have such a room in Bedford Park because the house there was smaller. Henrietta had a spirit-teacher called Husein. The reference to Husein comes from W B Yeats and is from 1900 but I expect Henrietta had established contact with Husein much earlier. It’s not clear in what way Henrietta contacted her spirit-guide but focused meditation, trance and/or the use of a sphere were typical methods. She also used the Tarot pack to look into the future though there’s no information about which pack Henrietta preferred to use.


These brief details of Henrietta’s work as a GD member come from W B Yeats; in a letter in April 1900 and an entry in his Visions Notebook for May 1900. Yeats was worried about what Maud Gonne – the woman he loved - was doing. In a brief search of the web I couldn’t find that she was doing anything more worrying than usual, except refusing to marry Yeats when he asked her. However, Yeats was especially unnerved by what he was hearing about Maud in April 1900 and asked Henrietta to do a Tarot reading looking into Maud’s future. The reading’s results were unsettling and caused Henrietta to consult her Husein for further information. Husein reported that Maud was in danger of being led astray by demons. Passing that un-reassuring information on to Yeats was the end of Henrietta’s part in the affair but it does illustrate the sort of practice GD members did.


The consultation came shortly after a turbulent few months at the GD’s Isis-Urania temple, at the end of which Samuel Liddell Mathers had been expelled from the Order and a Council set up to run the temple in his stead. Henrietta was a member of the Council; she was given special responsibility for helping new initiates with their study-work.


The turbulent few months had begun when members of the 2nd Order in London had discovered that the Order was not the latest in a line of such occult groups stretching back to time immemorial, but an idea from the late 1880s based on a set of forged documents. Expelling Mathers and his supporters didn’t solve the problem of whether the GD’s existence was based on forgeries. Asking the other GD founder, William Wynn Westcott, whether Mathers’ allegations were true didn’t get the GD anywhere, so a small group of GD women agreed to use occult means to try to discover the truth. Each of them did a guided visualisation of the history of the founding documents. Henrietta was one of the group but what she saw contributed nothing likely to have eased the general anxiety – she just saw a man who, she understood, had bought one of the founding manuscripts at a sale.


The expulsion of Mathers meant that the GD could welcome Annie Horniman back, and she was appointed the ruling Council’s Scribe. However, she very soon discovered the existence of groups like the Egyptian Group, and she denounced them as against not only the rules of the GD but the rules of occult learning in general. She was right, but not having been in the GD for the three years in which they had grown up, she had no idea of how important they had become to their members and how much they were getting from them.


A meeting of the GD’s 2nd Order was held in London on 1 February 1901 to thrash the matter out; with most of the rest of the 2nd Order members who were there opposing Annie and W B Yeats. Henrietta went to the meeting; but the arguments went on so long she and others had to leave before the end. With tempers very frayed and nothing much decided, a second meeting was called, for 25 February. A day or so before it, a Statement was sent to the 2nd Order members signed by a number of them who intended to leave the GD if Annie and W B Yeats got their way and the sub-groups were banned. Florence Farr and Henrietta both signed the Statement. For them, membership of the GD without the Egyptian Group (soon to be Sphere Group) would be pointless.


At the second meeting a compromise was reached which pleased no one: the sub-groups were allowed to continue but with restrictions that made their operation difficult; and Annie continued to harrass the GD’s senior members about them existing at all. By July 1902 many formerly keen GD members had left. They included Florence Farr and her resignation probably ended the Sphere Group. Henrietta had also left the GD by July 1902. Leaving probably compounded a feeling that she was going through an end of things – Rev Cutts, whose books had been such an inspiration for her in the 1880s, had died in 1901.




In 1903 the GD split into two daughter orders, the Independent and Rectified Rite, and what was later named Stella Matutina. Neither Henrietta nor Florence Farr were members of those. If Henrietta continued to research secret knowledge and practice magic, it was probably on her own, or with a reverent communion about which no information has survived.


Letting go of their time in the GD proved difficult for Henrietta and Florence. It was not until 1912 that Florence had a clear-out of her library and other magical artefacts and she probably wouldn’t had the clear-out even then if she hadn’t been about to leave the country. Henrietta, too, kept her GD things: it’s known that items from her and Florence’s time in the GD were destroyed when a bomb hit 76 Parkhill Road during the second World War; and Ellic Howe even heard rumours of a box of magical paraphernalia once belonging to the Pagets being found in a shop on Charing Cross Road many years later.




Sources for the GD section; for the full publication details of ‘R A Gilbert’ and ‘Howe’ see the Basic Sources section at the end of the file.

The pledge forms: R A Gilbert pp44-45.

Etta’s 5=6 exam paper: Howe p92 quoting Annie’s magical diary from 21 May [1892].


John Butler Yeats and the mystery chemist 1894:

Prodigal Father Revisited: Artists and Writers in the World of John Butler Yeats ed itor Janis Londraville. In the Locust Hill Literary Studies Series; 34. Published West Cornwall CT: p352 in Josephine Johnson’s article Ex-”Pathriots”: Florence Farr Emery and John Butler Yeats (pp 351-74). Johnson was able to give an exact date for this evening séance: it took place the day after Florence Farr’s divorce case reached court.

Standard Tue 31 July 1894 p2 Court Reports has coverage of Emery (that is, Florence Farr, who’d reverted to her original surname) v Emery, heard the day before.

Josephine Johnson suggested that the anonymous chemist’s assistant/medium was George Cecil Jones. I think it’s a bit early in the GD’s history for Jones to be the man: he wasn’t initiated until July 1895. There are two more likely candidates: Jones’ good friend Julian Levett Baker, initiated June 1894; and Allan Bennett, initiated February 1894. It seems a bit too soon for Baker; so my money is on Bennett. Initiation dates: R A Gilbert p155, p152, p151.


Shaw’s evening with Florence, the Pagets and Annie Horniman:

Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 in 2 volumes, annotated and edited by Stanley Weintraub. University Park Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press 1986. Volume 2 p115 diary for 9 January 1896. I expect Shaw was resigned to finding the Pagets in Florence’s rooms – they and their children had just moved in with her.


The petition to reinstate Annie Horniman: Howe pp135-44; list of those signing the petition p143. On pp135-36 Howe quotes Mathers’ letter to Annie expelling her from the GD; written 3 December 1896.


Florence Farr appointed Mathers’ representative in London: Howe pp168-69. Her appointment followed the decision of William Wynn Westcott to resign as the GD’s main administrator and record-keeper.


Florence Farr’s Egyptian/Sphere Group: Cauda Pavonis was the newsletter/journal of the Hermetic Text Society. At there is a list of articles published in it, beginning 1982; it’s not published any longer. When it was published it was issued by the Dept of English, Washington State University at Pullman. In its volumes 11-16 1992 pp7-12 article by Sharon E Cogdill on Florence Farr’s Sphere Group by Florence. Her source was notes compiled probably around 1901/02 by group member Robert William Felkin.

Howe p247 and pp250-51, also using Felkin’s notes. List of the group’s members, noted down by Felkin: Florence; Felkin himself; Ada Waters; Cecilia Macrae; Marcus Worsley Blackden; Helen Rand; Florence Kennedy; Henrietta Paget; Robert Palmer-Thomas; Edmund Hunter; Dorothea Hunter; and Fanny Hunter.


Daily use of magic at the GD’s ritual rooms: Howe p104, p113 listing details entered in a log book kept by Westcott.


Henrietta’s private room for her occult work: Howe p199 footnote 2. Howe writes that he got the information from Josephine Johnson while she was writing her biography of Florence Farr. Johnson had been able to interview Henrietta’s daughter Dorothy Rhodes about her aunt and mother’s involvement in the GD; maybe Dorothy had told her about the room.

In Florence Farr: Bernard Shaw’s New Woman by Josephine Johnson. Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1975 p73 Johnson says the room was a “dressing-room” at 76 Park Hill Road.

The Pagets moved to Parkhill Road early in 1897: Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 in 2 vols, annotated and edited by Stanley Weintraub. University Park Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press 1986: p1156 Shaw visited them there in late February 1897 which was probably a few weeks after they moved in.


Henrietta’s spirit-guide: Collected Letters of W B Yeats volume 2 1896-1900 editors Warwick Gould, John Kelly, Deirdre Toomey. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1997: p524 footnote 1 on letter dated 28 April [1900]. And on p525, what Husein told Henrietta in her séance with ?it ?him is noted in Yeats’ Visions Notebook for 4 May1900.


List of those in the Council set up to run the Isis-Urania temple in April 1900: R A Gilbert pp77-78.


The visualisations on the GD’s founding documents: R A Gilbert pp28-29. Gilbert could only find a copy of what the women saw; typed up by Christina Stoddart in 1923 during her investigation into the GD’s origins. The original Stoddart was using has been lost. Its date is unknown but shortly after Annie Horniman’s reinstatement in April 1900 seems likely to me.


The argument about sub-groups:

The longest and most detailed account of this forms the basis of George Mills Harper’s Yeats’s Golden Dawn published USA: Harpers and Row Publishers Inc 1974. Of course, it is an account from Yeats and Annie Horniman’s side of the argument. Beginning on p59 the Statement Issued to Adepti by the Majority of the Council is printed with a list of the signatories on p66. Henrietta having to leave the meeting before it was finished: pp39-44.

At the Freemasons’ Library, its call number GBR 1991 GD 2/4/6/1 is the original typescript of the Statement… generally thought to have been prepared by Robert Palmer-Thomas, whose motto – Lucem Spero – is typed at the end of it on its p4. Then there’s an additional half a page, p5, also typed on the same typewriter and with same fading ribbon, and headed ‘To Sum Up’. It declares that the signatories refuse to be “ seniors simply because they have passed examinations”. The signatories say they will leave the GD if the meeting [which took place on 25 February 1901] ends with a decision to refuse to allow the sub-groups to continue. Dum Spiro Spero – Henrietta – was amongst the signatories, all of whom were in the Egyptian/Sphere Group.


The exact date on which Henrietta left the GD isn’t known; if she sent in a resignation letter, it hasn’t survived. Howe p240 takes from a GD list compiled in June 1902 a list of names of 20 2nd Order members who had left in the past few months. Florence Farr and Henrietta Paget are on that list. I think it’s probably relevant that according to Josephine Johnson, Florence joined the Theosophical Society in June 1902, in a very depressed state of mind. Source: Johnson op cit p92 quoting Florence herself.


That Florence and Henrietta kept a lot of GD paraphernalia after they left the Order: Prodigal Father Revisited: Artists and Writers in the World of John Butler Y editor Janis Londraville. In the Locust Hill Literary Studies Series; 34. Published West Cornwall CT: p356, p365.



BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.

Membership of the Golden Dawn: 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; (census and probate);; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families;; 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: // 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


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 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!




21 January 2019


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: