A magical organization or magical order is an organization or secret society created for the practice of initiation into ceremonial or other forms of occult magic or to further the knowledge of magic among its members. Magical organizations can include Hermetic orders, esoteric societies, arcane colleges, and other groups which may use different terminology and similar though diverse practices.

18th century

The Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross (German: Orden des Gold- und Rosenkreutz) was a German Rosicrucian organization founded in the 1750s by Freemason and alchemist Hermann Fictuld.[1] Candidates were expected to be Master Masons in good standing. Alchemy was to be a central study for members.[2]

The Order of Knight-Masons Elect Priests of the Universe (French: Ordre des Chevaliers Maçons Élus Coëns de l’Univers) or simply Élus Coëns (Hebrew for "Elect Priests"), was a theurgical organisation founded by Martinez de Pasqually in 1767. It spread in France in the latter part of the 18th century and is the first branch of the Martinist tradition.[3]

19th century

Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (Rosicrucian Society of England), or SRIA, is a Rosicrucian esoteric Christian order formed by Robert Wentworth Little in 1865.[4] Members are confirmed from the ranks of subscribing Master Masons[4] of a Grand Lodge in amity with United Grand Lodge of England. The structure and grades of this order were derived from the 18th-century Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross. It later became the grade system used in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.[5]

The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor was an initiatic occult organisation that first became public in late 1894, although according to an official document of the order it began its work in 1870.[6] The Order's teachings drew heavily from the magico-sexual theories of Paschal Beverly Randolph, who influenced later groups such as Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), although it is not clear whether or not Randolph himself was actually a member of the Order.[7]

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn has been credited with a vast revival of occult literature and practices and was founded in 1887 or 1888 by William Wynn Westcott, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and William Robert Woodman. The teachings of the Order include ceremonial magic, Enochian magic, Christian mysticism, Qabalah, Hermeticism, the paganism of ancient Egypt, theurgy, and alchemy.[a]

Ordo Aurum Solis, founded in 1897, is a Western mystery tradition group teaching Hermetic Qabalah. Its rituals and system are different from the more popular Golden Dawn, because the group follows the Ogdoadic Tradition instead of Rosicrucianism.[citation needed]

Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) was founded by Carl Kellner in 1895, and is said to have been "reorganized and reconstituted" from the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light.[8]

20th century

Alpha et Omega was a continuation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Following a rebellion of adepts in London and an ensuing public scandal which brought the name of the Order into disrepute,[9] Mathers renamed the branch of the Golden Dawn remaining loyal to his leadership to "Alpha et Omega" sometime between 1903 and 1913.[10] Another faction, led by Robert Felkin, became the Stella Matutina.[11]

A∴A∴ was created in 1907 by Aleister Crowley and teaches magick and Thelema, which is a religion shared by several occult organizations. The main text of Thelema is The Book of the Law. Ordo Templi Orientis was reworked by Aleister Crowley after he took control of the Order in the early 1920s. Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica functions as the ecclesiastical arm of OTO.[citation needed]

Builders of the Adytum (or B.O.T.A.) was created in 1922 by Paul Foster Case and was extended by Dr. Ann Davies. It teaches Hermetic Qabalah, astrology and occult tarot.[citation needed]

Also in 1922, after a falling-out with Moina Mathers[12] and with Moina's consent, Dion Fortune left the Alpha et Omega to form an offshoot organization.[13][14] This indirectly brought new members to the Alpha et Omega.[15] In 1924, Fortune's group became known as the Fraternity of the Inner Light.

Fraternitas Saturni ('Brotherhood of Saturn') is a German magical order, founded in 1926 by Eugen Grosche (also known as Gregor A. Gregorius) and four others. It is one of the oldest continuously running magical groups in Germany.[16] The lodge is, as Gregorius states, "concerned with the study of esotericism, mysticism, and magic in the cosmic sense".[17]

In 1954, Kenneth Grant began the work of founding the New Isis Lodge, which became operational in 1955. This became the Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis (TOTO), which was eventually renamed to Typhonian Order.[18]

The Church of Satan, a religious organization dedicated to Satanism as codified in The Satanic Bible, was established in 1966, by Anton LaVey, who was the Church's High Priest until his death in 1997.[19] Church members may also participate in a system of magic which LaVey defined as greater and lesser magic.[citation needed] In 1975, Michael Aquino broke off from the Church of Satan and founded the Temple of Set.[20]

The satanic and neo-nazi Order of Nine Angles (O9A or ONA) was founded in the United Kingdom during the 1970s.[21] Hope not Hate have lobbied to have O9A designated a terrorist organization.[22]

In 1973 John Gibbs-Bailey and John Yeowell founded the Committee for the Restoration of the Odinic Rite or Odinist Committee in England.[23] Yeowell had been a member of the British Union of Fascists in his youth and bodyguard to leader Oswald Mosley.[24] In 1980 the organisation changed its name to Odinic Rite. It is a white supremicist organization.[25]

In 1976, James Lees founded the magical order O∴A∴A∴ in order to assist others in the pursuit of their own spiritual paths. The work of this order is based in English Qaballa.[26]

In 1977, The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Inc. was founded by Chic Cicero in Columbus, Georgia. This Order is notable for having the only working Golden Dawn temple in the United States at the end of the 1970s, making it the oldest continuously operating Golden Dawn offshoot in the U.S.[27]

The Sangreal Sodality is a spiritual brotherhood founded by British writer William G. Gray and Jacobus G. Swart in 1980.[28]

During the last two decades of the 20th century, several organizations practicing chaos magic were founded. These include Illuminates of Thanateros, and Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth. These groups rely on the use of sigils. Their main texts include Liber Null (1978) and Psychonaut (1982), now published as a single book.[29]


See also: List of fictional magic schools

The Grey School of Wizardry is an online school with a focus on secular esoteric education. Founded in 2004 by former headmaster Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, it operates primarily online and as a non-profit educational institution in California.[30]

Arcanorium College is an online school of magic founded by chaos magician Peter J. Carroll.[31]

See also



  1. ^ Smoley & Kinney (2006), pp. 102–103: "Founded in 1888, the Golden Dawn lasted a mere twelve years before it was shattered by personal conflicts. At its height it probably had no more than a hundred members. Yet its influence on magic and esoteric thought in the English-speaking world would be hard to overestimate."


Works cited

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  • Chappell, Toby (2019). Infernal Geometry and the Left-Hand Path. Inner Traditions/Bear. ISBN 978-1-62055-816-4.
  • Clark, P. (2013). Paul Foster Case. His Life and Works. Covina CA: Fraternity of the Hidden Light.
  • Conzola, E. J. II (April 14, 2023). "A school for wizards in Whitehall". NYVT Media. p. 1. Retrieved August 5, 2023.
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  • De Simone, Daniel (March 2, 2020). "UK Nazi Satanist group should be outlawed, campaigners urge". BBC. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  • De Simone, Daniel (June 23, 2020b). "Order of Nine Angles: What is this obscure Nazi Satanist group?". BBC. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
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  • Dukes, Ramsey (2011). How to See Fairies: Discover Your Psychic Powers in Six Weeks. Aeon Books. ISBN 978-1781812907.
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  • Greer, Mary K. (1996). Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses (1st ed.). Park Street Press. ISBN 0-89281-607-4.
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  • Rudgley, Richard (2006). Pagan Resurrection. Century. ISBN 0-7126-8096-9.
  • Sanchez, Casey (August 21, 2009). "Supreme Court Requires Prisons Give Special Consideration to Racist Pagans". Intelligence Report. No. 2009 Fall Issue. Retrieved December 15, 2022 – via Southern Poverty Law Center.
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  • Suster, Gerald (1990). Crowley's Apprentice: The Life and Ideas of Israel Regardie. Weiser Books. ISBN 0-87728-700-7.
  • Swart, Jacobus G. (n.d.). "An Introduction to the Foundation, Development and Teachings of the Sangreal Sodality". SangrealSodality.com. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013.
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Further reading