The Veil of Isis
The Inner Order Curriculum
“I further promise and swear that with the Divine Permission, I will, from this day forward, apply myself to the Great Work—which is: to purify and exalt my Spiritual Nature so that with the Divine Aid I may at length attain to be more than human, and thus gradually raise and unite myself to my Higher and Divine Genius, and that in this event I will not abuse the great power entrusted to me.”
The Order of the Rose of Ruby and the Cross of Gold was the name for the Inner Order of the Golden Dawn. The Inner Order offered magicks of substantially greater power than those of the Outer Order, and also offered access to knowledge restricted from lesser members. Inner Order members had their own meeting-place, the Vault of Adepts, whose location and contents were not shared with Outer Order members. It was in the vault that rituals related to the Inner Order were held, such as advancement to a higher grade.
This section describes the Inner Order grades and curriculum. The section entitled The Outer Order Curriculum describes the point system used to gain grades and abilities, as well as how Golden Dawn investigators can gain and spend points over the course of play. This section assumes that the reader is familiar with the procedures of gaining and spending points, and so that information is not repeated here.
Note that information on the Inner Order curriculum was not commonly available to Outer Order members. It is strongly recommended that players with Inner Order investigators not tell other players about the powers awaiting them at higher grades. Try and maintain a sense of mystery about the Inner Order, for it is here that some truly potent magicks were made available to investigators. Within the real Golden Dawn, the grades of the Order conferred a certain status and exclusivity, and this applies to gameplay as well; Inner Order members are a cut above the crowd.
On completion of the Outer Order grades an invitation may be extended to join the Inner Order of the Golden Dawn. This select band vetted all candidates for membership, allowing in only those who were thought to be both capable and “suitable” of receiving the knowledge and practical skills the Inner Order taught.
In practice few ever achieved a grade beyond that of Adeptus Minor. The amount of study required to achieve the grade was formidable—the Outer Order curriculum paled in comparison. Those that did reach higher grades almost invariably did so through dubious self-promotion.
To move through the grades the initiate was expected to study occult material provided by the Order and later take an examination on those materials. The curriculum was strict, and the study material compiled in such a way that the student only learned what was required for that particular grade.
The culmination of each grade was an examination. After completing the required period of study the member must make a successful Occult or halved Idea roll, whichever is higher. If the roll succeeds they have passed, and advance to the next grade. Those who fail the examination are required to retake it after a revision period of not less than two months.
Occult Skill Increases Per Grade Achieved
Each grade achieved by an investigator adds 1D6 to his or her Occult skill, though not above the maximums listed below. For example: a Practicus Adeptus Minor investigator has an Occult skill of 67%. Upon reaching the grade of Adeptus Major, the investigator gains 1D6 points of Occult skill. If the player rolls higher than 3 (giving him or her a 70% Occult skill), the extra points are lost.
Inner Order Curriculum
Each subject taught in the Inner Order is described below, both in terms of the kinds of knowledge imparted and the gameplay benefits it derives. Recall that each subject is bought in levels by spending points, and that multiple levels can be purchased (and multiple sets of benefits gained) by spending enough points.
No attempt has been made to replicate the Golden Dawn’s magical rituals in game terms, not least because it would make for time-consuming roleplay. Instead, a playable alternative based on the broad concepts taught by the Inner Order has been substituted.
Upon entering the Inner Order the adept was taught the hexagram ritual, a more advanced and powerful version of the pentagram ritual. Like that lesser magic, the hexagram is inscribed in the air or on a surface using a steel dagger. It also had numerous variations, which have no bearing on play and are not addressed. When drawn correctly the hexagram can aid in the use of magicks, including the summoning and banishing of spirits and many other rituals.
Once an investigator has joined the Inner Order, he or she can no longer spend points on the Outer Order teaching of Astrology; instead, the Inner Order’s teaching of Advanced Astrology should be pursued. Note, however, that if the investigator has never taken Astrology before, he or she must purchase a single level of Outer Order Astrology and then purchase levels of Advanced Astrology from that point forward.
Advanced Astrology brings the use of astrology more firmly into the Golden Dawn’s heavily cross-referenced system of magickal correspondances, providing additional avenues of interpretation and greater depths of meaning to the astrologer. It does not change the way in which the Astrology skill is used; rather, in gameplay terms the investigator simply gets more benefits for each level of Advanced Astrology purchased than for a level of Outer Order Astrology grants.
Each additional level purchased adds 8% to the Astrology skill. In addition, those who study Astrology also receive 2D3 points in Astronomy per level purchased.
Once an investigator has joined the Inner Order, he or she can no longer spend points on the Outer Order teaching of Cartomancy; instead, the Inner Order’s teaching of Advanced Cartomancy should be pursued. Note, however, that if the investigator has never taken Cartomancy before, he or she must purchase a single level of Outer Order Cartomancy and then purchase levels of Advanced Cartomancy from that point forward.
Advanced Cartomancy brings the use of cartomancy more firmly into the Golden Dawn’s heavily cross-referenced system of magickal correspondances, providing additional avenues of interpretation and greater depths of meaning to the tarot reader. It does not change the way in which the Cartomancy skill is used; rather, in gameplay terms the investigator simply gets more benefits for each level of Advanced Cartomancy purchased than for a level of Outer Order Cartomancy grants.
Each additional level purchased adds 8% to the Cartomancy skill.
There are many different types of talismans, and they too were consecrated within the vault. Talismans could be constructed of paper, cardboard, metal, wood, or a combination of materials. These talismans always utilized occult symbolism appropriate to their purpose, such as particular color schemes or ornamentation. Each type of talisman had a specific purpose for which it was created, often for healing or protection from spirits. Three sample talismans are described below. Other types are also possible—players can work with the Keeper to create new ones. The point costs listed below are the costs to learn how to make the talisman in question, said information gained by study and discussion with other Inner Order members. Actually constructing the talisman is a different matter and the Keeper has full information on this process. None of these things are a spell per se, but rather a procedure or ritual whose “effect” is simply the creation of the given talisman.
- Talisman of Banishment: Aids the user against afflictions caused by astral beings. Cost: 3 character creation points.
- Talisman of Healing: Aids the user against natural afflictions or toxins. Cost: 2 character creation points.
- Talisman of Will: Aids the user in battles of willpower against magickal opponents. Cost: 2 character creation points.
- Other Talismans: Investigators can research and attempt to create talismans with other effects. The player should describe the kind of protection or aid a new talisman would grant, and the Keeper then assigns the costs and game effects of the item in secret. Sample talismans players might create could include ones that aid the summoning/binding of spirits, ones that aid dowsing or other magickal skill, etc.
Members of the Order were encouraged to create magical foci for use during their rituals. Most times these foci were wands or talismans. Wands were constructed of glass or wood, the latter most often oak, ash, or some other wood with purported mystical significance. The wands were consecrated within the vault to bestow them with their powers, and there were a variety of types, three of which are described below. Other types are also possible—players can work with the Keeper to create new ones. The point costs listed below are the costs to learn how to make the wand in question; actually constructing the wand is a different matter and the Keeper has full information on this process.
- Lotus Wand: Aids the user in many magickal practices much as does the pentagram and hexagram rituals. Cost: 1 character creation point.
- Storage Wand: By meditating and focusing with this wand, the user may imbue it with some of his energy when desired. Said energy can then be called upon to aid some magickal practices. Cost: 2 character creation points.
- Wand of Force: A powerful wand that can channel the user’s energy into a debilitating force when used against an opponent. Cost: 3 character creation points.
- Other Wands: Like Talismans, players can try to create their own Wands. Unlike Talismans, this can only be done with the assistance and guidance of an Inner Order ally. Otherwise, see the guidelines mentioned under Talismans and use the above examples to aid in the design.
Dowsing (The Method of the Ring and the Disk)
Though dowsing is commonly known as a method of using a forked stick (or other focus) to locate water, minerals, and the like, the Dawn taught a particular form of dowsing as a means of divination. As the Dawn (and others) taught it, the dowser holds a ring or other object at the end of a string or chain and focuses on the question at hand. The ring was held above a disk of paper or wood with various symbols and words written on it. The pendulum begins to swing, and the direction of its movement and the number of rotations is interpreted for answers. At its simplest, the ring swings in a tight circle answering “yes” by a clockwise rotation and “no” by a counter-clockwise rotation. More advanced usage would have the ring pointing to various parts of the writing on the disc and intimating answers thereby.
In this respect it is somewhat akin to the use of a ouijia board. This form of Dowsing was reputed by the Dawn to carry the possibility of grave danger from harmful physical manifestations or from possession by malignant spirits.
The Golden Dawn did not teach dowsing as a means of locating various materials, but were certainly aware of it. Dowsing as they it was essentially one more form of drawing-room fortune-telling like astrology or cartomancy.
When first purchased, a Dowsing skill of POWx2 is created. It advances with each successful use or study, as other skills, and may also be increased by buying additional levels with points gained from play. A focus of some kind is used to perform these actions, as discussed above.
Spirit Vision is used to see into the astral plane—a prerequisite if one is to learn to travel within that realm. Spirit Vision is also recommended as a means of viewing spirits, performing psychic healings, and the like. As with astral travel, however, adepts are cautioned to use restraint, as some denizens of the astral realm are dangerous to humans.
J. W. Brodie-Innes developed this ritual, which he created to drive off what he termed a “vampirizing elemental” that afflicted his wife. (It was described in a Flying Roll written by Brodie-Innes.) Although portions of the ritual are adapted from the Catholic ritual of exorcism, this version also incorporates Kabbalistic elements and need not be cast by a member of the clergy. It is not effective on “normal” cases of possession; instead, it forces an Astral Parasite who is feeding on a victim to cease feeding immediately. If the parasite had been summoned and bound and then ordered to feed, this ritual will negate the binding. In addition, the parasite is prevented from feeding on the same victim again for a number of weeks equal to the caster’s POW.
To perform the ritual, the investigator must first execute the pentagram and hexagram rituals, and then engage in Spirit Vision as the parasite must be visible (note that viewing the parasite will probably cause a Sanity loss). Once the parasite can be seen by the investigator, he or she may perform the exorcism ritual.
The Golden Dawn’s esoteric powers are given to the Order by the “Secret Chiefs,” vastly powerful entities who live on the Astral Plane. This shadow-plane exists alongside our own physical world, and it is possible to see into this world (see “Spirit Vision”) and even to travel there. Travelers may hope to meet other travelers for various reasons, or they may hope to contact spirits. The Order warns that astral travel is not without its dangers, and that only experienced adepts should attempt it.
Summoning and Binding Elemental Spirits
The Order has contacted and named a number of “elemental spirits” from the astral plane and elsewhere. These spirits are most commonly summoned as sources of information, or as attendants at Order rituals. These summonings are not always successful, though it is usually hard to tell.
As with much of the information dealing with the astral plane and its denizens, the summoning and binding of elemental spirits is strongly warned against by the Secret Chiefs. Indeed, few members are ever taught these rituals save for the Order’s officers. Also, only those who have learned to create a protective pentacle are given this sensitive information.
This ritual takes a full day to perform and is the hardest spell on the curriculum. In fact, only Aleister Crowley ever claimed to have succeeded in casting it. If the ritual is performed successfully the caster is not truly invisible but merely masked from the perception of others.
Other Golden Dawn Magicks
The investigators may also be able to learn other magicks from the Golden Dawn, either from its more knowledgable members or from the Order’s esoteric library. These cases are left for the Keeper to judge.
The Order undoubtedly had access to other forms of magic, but whether they realized it or made use of them is another matter. Mathers warned against the use of black magic by Order members, even going so far as to suspend members who reportedly practiced such sorcery; A. E. Waite was one such unlikely black magician, though Dr. Berridge and others were also accused of using harmful types of magic.