The Golden Dawn grade of Adeptus Major is the seventh grade of the GD system, immediately succeeding the grade of Adeptus Minor and preceding that of Adeptus Exemptus. It is also known by the numeration 6=5 and is supposedly associated with the Qabalistic Sephirah of Geburah.

The General Nature of the Adeptus Major GradeEdit

The Adeptus Major grade is named after the sixth degree of SRIA, which in turn is modelled on the equivalent degree of the eighteenth century Rosicrucian order, the "Golden and Rosy Cross."

The Adeptus Major grade of the SRIA is a relatively simple affair, which exhorts the candidate to study methods of contemplative thought such as Yoga. The "Golden and Rosy Cross" ritual is extremely lacking in detail: in it, the candidate makes a symbolic circumambulation of the temple, at the end of which he is presented with a "cipher," the precise nature of which has not been published.

Founder member of the Golden Dawn, Wynn Westcott described the 6=5 grade as being analogous to the 120 years that the Tomb of the founder of Rosicrucianism, Christian Rosenkreutz, remained hidden. He described the grade as:

"...a degree of death and solemnity - referring to the precedent stage of obscuration, during which silent study and meditation may be considered the typical condition..."[1]

Very few of the original members of the Golden Dawn are known to have received the grade of Adeptus Major before the break-up of the original order. S L Macgregor Mathers apparently created versions of the 6=5 and 7=4 rituals sometime prior to 1900[2], but he only conferred these grades on a limited number of people at his temple in Paris.

It has now emerged that different schisms of the Golden Dawn used different versions of the Adeptus Major Ritual. These include:

  • A version created by Macgregor Mathers and used in the Alpha Et Omega.
  • A version created by Robert Felkin and used in the Stella Matutina. The most famous initiate to have undergone this particular ceremony was the poet W B Yeats.
  • A version created by Arthur Edward Waite and used in the "Holy Order of the Golden Dawn", around 1910.
  • At least two further versions created by Waite for use in his later order, the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. These are heavily revised versions of the former ritual.

The Felkin VersionEdit

This has now been published by Patrick Zalewski[3]. W B Yeats' papers (which are now housed in the National Library of Ireland), contain a highly interesting commentary on this ritual which goes behind the bare text to illustrate the magical and mystical forces at work in the ceremony.[4]

The key characteristics of the ritual are:

  • The candidate remains completely Silent - until "released" towards the end of the ceremony.
  • The Vault of the Adepti is draped in Red - the colour of Mars (Geburah), whilst the Pastos is draped in black. A red curtain is hung at the head of the Vault to conceal a secret door in the Mars wall.
  • The candidate is symbolically "mummified" and entombed for a period described as being "36 hours"[5] but elsewhere described as 36 long pauses marked by bells[6]. During this time, the candidate goes on a long and sophisticated Astral journey.
  • At the end of this time, the candidate is visited in the tomb by a female officer who represents the Shekinah, the Qabalistic name for the "Divine Presence" or the feminine side of God. Thereupon, the candidate is released from his entombment.

Very little information has been published as to what secret teachings were studied by Adepti Majores of the Stella Matutina, however this includes:

  • Secret teachings of the Portal ceremony;
  • A note, written to Israel Regardie, mentioning that the Adeptus Major was expected to invoke the "Spiritus Mundi";
  • Some advanced teachings on Enochian Magic[7].

The Mathers VersionEdit

A facsimile of Mathers' version, featuring an introduction by Carnegie-Dixon, a later temple chief of the Alpha et Omega, has now been published.[8] This version does not feature an opening or closing. It consists of a Conferring Adept teaching the signs and passwords of the grade to a new Adeptus Major, and contains very little detail as to what the teachings of that grade might be.

According to Zalewski, the secret teachings of the Mathers Adeptus Major grade were originally advanced teachings of the Adeptus Minor grade - until Mathers decided to re-structure the curriculum.[9]

The (First) Waite VersionEdit

This was published by Israel Regardie, after having been shown a copy by Golden Dawn scholar R A Gilbert.[10]

Waite is known to have been in contact with Felkin, and it can be seen that the ceremony is structurally similar to the Felkin version, i.e. with the importance of Silence, the period in the red-draped tomb, the significance of the "Shekinah." The main differences though are:

  • There is a cryptic reference to Mercury immediately prior to the candidate being led into the Tomb;
  • Interestingly the Candidate and Shekinah are compared to "Horus" and "Nuit."
  • The officers' speeches are long and turgid, reflecting Waite's unfortunate writing style.

The Later Waite VersionsEdit

Waite's later revisions of his own rituals reflected his increasing pre-occupation with Christian Mysticism - hence many earlier references to Magic (including those to Horus and Nuit) were left out. There is still a sojourn in the Tomb, and the presence of Shekinah, although the insistence on Silence has been removed.


  1. "G H Frater NOM" (Wynn Westcott), Francis King (ed), [n.d.], "Flying Roll No. XVI - The History of the Rosicrucian Order", Published in "Ritual Magic of the Golden Dawn", Destiny Books, Rochester VT.
  2. Zalewski, 1988, "Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn", Falcon Press, Phoenix AZ
  3. Zalewski, ibid.
  4. Harper, 1989, "Yeats' Golden Dawn", Borgo.
  5. Zalewski, op cit
  6. Harper, op cit
  7. Zalewski, 1994, "Golden Dawn Enochian Magic", Llewellyn, St Pauls Minnesota.
  8. Cicero, S T, 2012, The Book of the Concourse of the Watchtowers - An exploration of Westcott's enochian tablets, HOGD Books.
  9. Zalewski 1988, op cit
  10. Regardie, 1984, "The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic", Falcon Press, Phoenix AZ.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.