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Labels, Cults, and Politics

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on September 8, 2010 | Comments (5)

In the blog Gleamings from the Dawn, Morgan Drake Eckstein seems surprised to hear that on another blog, a person wrote that you shouldn’t use the term “cult” to describe “Golden Dawn groups.” Eckstein writes, “If we cannot use the word ‘cult,’ especially in its technical sense, then what word are we supposed to use?”

Using a simple term to describe an organization (or individual) is a great advantage. After all, rather than give a list of characteristics, I can simply use that term, a label, and not have to describe all of the qualities I like or dislike.

The problem, however, is that your definition of the label may not be the same as my definition. Let’s use this highly charged word “cult.” Spend a moment and come up with a definition of the term. My definition matches the one that is found in my dictionary: “A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.” Etymologically, it comes from the French culte or Latin cultus meaning “worship.” Does that match your definition?

Or how about this definition from my thesaurus, a definition I also agree with: “sect, denomination, group, movement, church, persuasion, body, faction.” Does that match your definition?

My guess is that it doesn’t. My guess is that for many of you reading this, your definition may have included concepts of “mind control” and doing something evil and/or harmful to members.


Were I a politician, I’d use this concept for my benefit. I could say, “I want better schools, more jobs, and a stronger defense against terrorists!” You might be thinking, “Yeah! I want those things, too!” You’d vote for me and maybe even send money to my campaign.

However, my method of getting these things might be completely opposite of yours. For example, I might think that a way to more jobs would be to increase taxes on the very wealthy and increase import duties on products made outside of our country while you might think we need to lower taxes on the very wealthy and eliminate import duties.

By using labels instead of explaining what I want to do, you’d get a totally erroneous idea of what I’m for and what I’m against. You might vote for me even thought I stand against everything you hold dear! You may not believe this is true, but I have documents and books written by political advisors supporting politicians on the Left and Right that explain exactly how to use this technique!

One of the traditions of magick is that you become aware of how people are trying to manipulate you so you can follow your True Will. That’s why I suggest people shouldn’t assume what others mean when they use labels.

Are There Any Golden Dawn Groups that are Cults?

There are lots of groups that claim to be the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. I know of one that totally inverts the symbolism of the Golden Dawn. I know of another that adopts popular “fluffy bunny metaphysical” concepts and reinterprets them as magickal. I know of one where the leader used supposed spiritual concepts to justify his sexual abuse of a minor.. I know of one where the group has become a fan club for the leader rather than following the Golden Dawn traditions.

By the specific definition of a cult as being a “sect,” I would say each of these groups is a cult. However, since most people use the term “cult” as meaning a group of people doing negative things and who may be suffering from some form of “mind control,” I won’t use the term to describe any of these groups.

My definition of the label may not be the same as your definition.

A Modest Suggestion

Rather than using labels that can have different meanings to different people, why don’t we just state exactly what we mean. You or I can’t control politicians as they try to manipulate us by not defining  the meanings of their labels. You or I can’t control those who seem to want to spread hate on radio and TV through their use of labels. You or I can’t control bloggers who use labels to defame others and avoid saying what they actually mean.

But we can become aware of how labels are used to control us. We can limit our own use of labels and just share what we mean. We can choose to become responsible for our words and actions.

We can choose a path of magick.

Reader Comments

Written By mike
on September 8th, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

Even the Label “Golden Dawn Tradition” becomes a source of debate. There are some that think the LBRP, BRH, LIRP and Middle Pillar are the Golden Dawn Tradition while others see those practices as elementary (pun intended) building blocks to get to the “Real” Golden Dawn Tradition.

In an age where the Golden Dawn is associated with everything from Thelema to Pagan-based Earth Magic(K) to guys selling $25 “tincture of gold” bottles I’m not sure that the Golden Dawn label is even worth fighting over, or fighting for.

Written By Samuel
on September 16th, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

I have to agree that definitions of Labels may differ from person to person, and from culture to culture. Sadly, the term Cult which classically meant worship was often applied to the Mystery Traditions such as Orphic Rites or Pythagorean Brotherhood, but in modern usage it more fits the negative model of a group which controls its members in their daily life in some restrictive manner, including “mind control”. This is a sad fact, but one which we must face.

The late Isaac Bonewits developed “The Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame” which gives a listing of 16 categories on which to judge a group, organization, or Order on how “cult-like” their particular behavior may be. It is well worth applying the test to any groups or organizations that a person may be a member of. While the test is based on the negative of the group, it at least offers some assistance to someone so that they can be sure that they do not join or get too deeply involved with a group which may be a cult in the negative connotation.

Just my two cents.



  1. Language, Linguistics, Magick  on September 15th, 2010 @ 3:19 pm
  2. The Curse of Context  on November 18th, 2010 @ 11:46 am

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