Mishkan ha-Echad

Tuesday 21 September 2021

The Equinox Pass Words Employed by the Original Order of the Golden Dawn

Each Equinox a new Pass Word is chosen, acting as a means to distinguish members from those who have demitted, resigned, or been expelled. It also acts as a link with the Solar Light, as per Mathers' explanation in Ritual Z3. 

More than this, however, I would argue it is, as it were, a form of motto for the Order for the half-year period in question, and since the motto is intended to represent one's "higher occult aim or aspirations," the Pass Word can thus be seen to represent the highest occult aim or aspirations of the Order for that Equinoctial period. Its use, then, in addition to bringing into action the link with the Solar Light, is a form of invocation of the forces cognizant with the word chosen. A simple, yet powerful, formula.

Groups bearing the GD moniker today likely use all manner of Pass Words, depending on what is important to them and their leaders, either chosen directly (with intent) or through some mystical means (such as the Ring and Disk of ThAM).

Yet, perhaps surprisingly to some, we know the actual Pass Words used by the original Order, for quite a number of years, thanks to the first Minute Book of Ahathoor Temple No. 7 (Mathers' Temple in Paris), although some copies of the rituals also had the Pass Word of the time written in (matching the Minute Book)perhaps an esoteric society faux pas, but a matter of great historical significance.

Interestingly, pretty much all of the Pass Words were Egyptian-themed, and most were Egyptian deities. Of course, Egyptian symbolism is a major part of the tradition, but some may be surprised that there was not more variety in the chosen Pass Words.

The historical Pass Words I know of are:

September 1893 - "Horus"

March 1894 - "Rameses" (The first figure seen, the great and powerful pharoah, the invocation of whom might have inspired loyalty in Mathers' new Temple, and, of course, the Order as a whole.)

September 1894 - "Ra" or "Phrah" (It's interesting that they allowed two forms of the Pass Word on this occasion. I would have generally thought this a bad idea, both esoterically and practically, given the potential for confusion, etc.)

March 1895 - "Thoth"

September 1895 - "Maut" (This could be "Mout" also, as the handwriting can be read either way.)

March 1896 - "Shu"

September 1896 - "Apis"

March 1897 - "Osiris"

September 1897 - "Horus" (This is the first repeated Pass Word seen, suggesting these were not chosen randomly, for there were an almost limitless number of Egyptian deities, etc. to choose from.)

March 1898 - "Zoan" (A place in Egypt, rather than a deity, the first major break of form seen here. "Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan." Psalm 78:12, KJV)

September 1898 - "Thoth" (Another repetition, though not a surprising one.)

March 1899 - "Nephthys"

September 1899 - "Isis-Athor"

March 1900 - "Harmakhis" (Horus in the Horizon)

After this, of course, the Order schismed and collapsed, so the Pass Words for the subsequent offshoots are not here recorded. There were also Pass Words prior to 1893, which I am not currently aware of (though they may be somewhere in the many papers I haven't yet had a chance to look through). We can likely safely assume they were Egyptian in form also, perhaps with a few repetitions of what we see above.

Since members were able to travel from Temple to Temple, these Pass Words should have applied to the Order as a whole.

A potentially interesting exercise would be to compare the qualities of the deities, etc. in question with the events that occured for those six months to see if there are any parallels. Of course, sometimes we can force links that aren't there, but if we are to understand the Pass Word as more than just a way to determine current members, then the effects should be indeed apparent.

If nothing else, these historical Pass Words give us a small, but significant, insight into the operation of the original Order of the Golden Dawn and its leaders.

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