The Truth About the Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscripts

The Truth About the Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscripts
By: Robert Zink
How did Westcott and Mathers actually come across the Cipher Manuscripts?

Some have pointed out that there is really nothing in the Cipher Manuscripts that shows any connection to Rosicrucianism except at the end where a "Hermetic Rose Cross" is included. However if the historic Golden Dawn was an Outer school for a true Inner Order, then we should not expect too much early Rosicrucian symbolism. Others have theorized that these notes taken by Lytton may have been passed along to Fredrich Hockley. He was an occultist and a collector of rare and unusual manuscripts. The theory continues that Hockley may have added the Enochian material to it. In 1885, his papers were inherited by Woodford, who may have given the Cipher Manuscripts to Westcott. (This seems doubtful in that William Westcott and Robert Woodford were not on the best of terms.)

In actuality, another theory seems even more plausible. Keep in mind that this is just a theory. S.L. MacGregor Mathers and Westcott were secretly initiated into the sister lodge in London. There, they quietly studied and learned the rites. They combined their own notes and the ciphers, which may have been modified to keep more in time with English Masonic society. It is likely that they also added the Enochian portion to the ciphers. Of course, as Rosicrucians, they were under the strictest of oaths never to admit their Adeptship or the fact that they were Rosicrucian. To do so would be severe indeed. Remember the rule of any Rosicrucians - anyone claiming to be a Rosicrucian is not one!

Thus, a story was created by Westcott and Mathers to explain how these documents came into their hands, and why they possessed the authority to create the Order. It is also possible that the few members remaining from the early London lodge were quite old, and like any true Rosicrucian, wanted to remain anonymous. They may have felt a strong need to pass along these seeds of knowledge, in that an occult revival was underway in England. They concluded the time was ripe for a more fully functioning Temple in London and the growth of this fraternity. Remember, Westcott was already involved in a working lodge called the S.R.I.A. which had no ties to antiquity . He would have had little if any motivation to form another school unless it was "chartered" to do so!

So,were the ciphers fogeries as many, including Howe, have concluded? The answer can be both yes and no! They were possibly notes compiled by Lytton and modified by Mathers based on his own knowledge and exposure to the rites himself. One thing is for certain - they are based on a tradition that finds its way to Frankfurt and in all likelihood beyond.

One final question remains, Soror S.D.A., Fraulein Sprengel; was she real or a code word derived from the German Masonic word "sprengelrecht?" This word basically means "territonal jurisdiction." If Westcott and Mathers were actually given a direct charter, then it is possible they would have been exposed to the word "sprengelrecht."

There is one other possibility that exists as well. She really did exist. There is no reason to believe she did not exist and may have actually been a secret Adept in London or in Germany. More research needs to be done in this area.

This paper is not complete. I am, however, confident that much of Westcott's historical information will not be included in forthcoming books on the Cipher Manuscripts. More research must be done, or maybe those in the know (the Inner Adepti), are again not talking. One thing is certain: The motherload of Golden Dawn and Inner Order material is still safely buried and out of the false light of those who would profane it.


Howe, E., The Magicians of the Golden Dawn, London 1972.
Regardie, I., What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn, Phoenix 1983.
Suster, G., Modern Scholarship and the Origins of the Golden Dawn in Regardie OP.CT. PP 159-178
Prinke, R.T., The Hermetic Journal 1987 36-16 Deeper Roots of the Golden Dawn.

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