Mishkan ha-Echad

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Attribution of Golden Dawn Flying Rolls

It is perhaps well-known today that much of the published corpus of Golden Dawn material contains errors and altered text, some minor, some much more significant. It is likely less well-known that there are some issues with the attribution of documents. I outline two examples from the Flying Rolls below.

Flying Roll XI, on Clairvoyance, is rightly attributed to Mathers, but the actual wording of it comes from Westcott, as we can see in this full title and attribution:

Flying Roll XI
A MS in the words and language
of G.H. Fra. N.O.M.
written out from his Notes
of a lecture delivered extempore
the G.H. Frater D.D.C.F. 7=4
Chief Adept of England
[added in pencil: by NOM. March 1893]

We see from the above that Mathers gave his lecture "extempore," which means without preparation, and Westcott took notes of this, before assembling them into this Flying Roll. This is important, because the content is from Mathers, but the wording is from Westcott.

The previous example is from the title page, but the attribution is repeated, in alternate wording, at the beginning of the lecture itself, as follows:

"This MSS is written out by G.H. Frater NOM at length in his own words from his Notes of a Lecture by the Chief Adept G.H. Fra. D.D.C.F. upon Clairvoyance." [underline in original]

Flying Roll XIV, properly titled The Formation of Talismans and Flashing Tablets, is commonly attributed to Westcott (typically under the motto Sapere Aude), and yet this was actually a lecture delivered by Mathers (D.D.C.F.), and merely issued as a Flying Roll by Westcott. Let us look at the full title and attribution:

Flying Roll XIV 
The Formation of Talismans
Flashing Tablets

being Notes of a Lecture 
delivered by the 
G.H. Frater D.D.C.F. 
to the College of Adepti 

Issued June 1893 
for circulation as a 
Flying Roll No XIV
by G.H. Frater NOM

In this case, it is not clear if the notes were made by Mathers or Westcott, though we do know that the original lecture was given by Mathers. 

It is important to note that "Issued by" does not mean "Written by," as evidenced by the fact that several Flying Rolls written by Westcott also contain a separate "Issued by" attribution.

Some may consider these misattributions inconsequential, but they are very significant errors, which ought to be corrected where possible.
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