Mishkan ha-Echad

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Lamens of the Golden Dawn, Part 1

For decades, the designs on the Lamens worn by the Officers in Golden Dawn ceremonies has largely been taken for granted, with the vast majority of people relying on or replicating the forms given in Israel Regardie's The Golden Dawn, or other books.

The original source material shows some subtle, and not so subtle, differences, which I will highlight in this series of articles.

To begin, let us look at the Lamens as given in Regardie's book:

Next, let us look at the original designs drawn by Mathers, with his accompanying description beneath them (click the image for a larger version):

There are numerous points of interest here, but for now I will focus on one that I think has been consistently overlooked: the fact that the Lamens of the Inferior Officers (Kerux, Stolistes, and Dadouchos) do not have a white circle (or border) around them.

Of course, it is always possible that Mathers made a mistake, forgetting to add the circles, but the descriptions below them, where the borders for the Superior Officers are mentioned, and none are mentioned for the remainder, makes this an unlikely scenario.

Another possibility is that he altered the designs after drafting these, but evidence elsewhere suggests that this is not the case.

For example, Z1 describes the Lamens in some detail, giving quotations from the previous ceremonies, and the outer circle is explicitly referred to in the case of the Hiereus and Hegemon, and inferred in the case of the Hierophant, while also being drawn in accompanying full-colour diagrams.

Z1 makes zero mention, however, of there being surrounding circles in the Lamens of the Inferior Officers, supporting the form as outlined in the above diagram by Mathers.

Interestingly, those worn by the Hierophant, Hiereus and Hegemon are all referred to as a "Great Lamen," while the remainder are just called Lamens, which also highlights their distinction.

This is further exemplified in a diagram showing these three Lamens on the Tree of Life, with their accompanying circles, a version of which is published in Adept Magic in the Golden Dawn Tradition by Frater YShY.

Further still, there are surviving AO drawings of several of the Lamens, dating from around 1904, and these only show the circles for the Superior Officers.

While some may see this as being a minor point, if we accept that symbolism is important, as evidenced by the Great Lamens on the Tree of Life diagram, then we must in turn accept that errors in symbolism are also important.

Of course, it is always possible that the Stella Matutina changed the design of the Lamens, and Israel Regardie subsequently inherited this change, but I think the above shows that in the case of the original GD, and the AO, the Lamens of the Inferior Officers did not have a surrounding circle.

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