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The Curse of Context

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on November 18, 2010 | Comments (2)

In my post entitled Labels, Cults, and Politics I focused on the idea that by not defining terms, people (ab)use the terms to influence others. They use a term to get your support because you believe the term means one thing even though they use the term to mean something different. An example of this phenomenon, used in politics, might be a politician seeking your vote by saying, “I’m going to vote to improve our education system.” To some people that might mean, “I’m going to increase funding to schools.” To others it might mean, “I’m going to cut funding to teachers.” To others it might mean something else. What does it mean to the politician? Unless that person defines what is meant, nobody knows. But it sounds good and gets votes.

In my post I asked, “Are there any Golden Dawn Groups that are cults?” I answered by writing:

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.

The purpose was to decry the use of the word “cult” without defining specifically what is meant by that term. I concluded by writing, “Rather than using labels that can have different meanings to different people, why don’t we just state exactly what we mean?” This was the context of my post.

Unfortunately (and I’m not going to link to it), another poster has taken two sentences out of this context to attack another person. This poster, rather than use his name, blogs using the name, “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.” To my mind this shows an amazing amount of hubris and a total lack of the Rosicrucian ideals (as originally given in the Fama Fraternitatis) he claims to espouse.

I would like to make very clear that I did not give this person authorization to quote me.
I did not give this person authorization to misrepresent the context of my post as he did.

Too often, whether it’s reading an author we like or while listening to one-sided interpretations that pass for “news” today, we don’t go back to their original sources. They assume we won’t do that. They know that in today’s world we rarely have time to check into their misunderstandings or misrepresentations or outright lies. I would say that today, perhaps more than ever, it’s important to check sources and the context of those sources.


I am proud to be friends with Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero. They contend they are “Senior Adepts of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” and, having seen their bona fides, I believe that is accurate. Their books are amazing, in-depth, and important advances to the corpus of Golden Dawn work. I have written for books they edited, and they were kind enough to contribute a foreword to the new edition of Modern Magick.

I do NOT support attacks on different Golden Dawn groups. I DO support those who are more interested in doing the work of learning and practicing magick rather than using blogs to attack others. That is why I am not linking to this person’s blog. I do NOT support those who support their own egos by quoting others out of context.

Reader Comments

Written By Freeman Presson
on November 18th, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

True, well-expressed, and important.

I also have to echo your words about Chic and Tabitha. We met them at a festival a few years ago and attended all of their classes and workshops. They are very real and they know their stuff.

Written By Samuel
on November 24th, 2010 @ 9:04 am

I could not agree with you more, and fully understand where you are coming from as I too am taken out of context in the self-same blog you are talking about.

I take full responsibility for what I say, but do not give any third party the right to use my comments, writings, or anything else of mine to attack another person or organization. If I personally disagree with a person or organization, I can fully comment on that without the need to attack that person or organization.

Like you, I find the actions of those that have posted other people’s comments out of context or simply misrepresenting what was said in the first place, to be reprehensible. These actions are certainly not in the spirit of Rosicrucianism as presented in the foundational Rosicrucian documents which that blogger espouses to uphold.

Being taken out of context or misquoted is something that is going to happen, especially from those that have their own agendas to fulfill. How do we counter or attempt to prevent more of this from happening? WE could stoop to some rather mundane magic of sorts and summon forth those demons of litigation – attorneys, but that leads to further bad blood and is rather costly in this economy. Not to mention that many of those bloggers that take other’s material out of context and post it on the blogs do so anonymously, so there is no way to actually serve them with legal notice. They are safe behind their wall of anonymity.

We can however step forward and blog on our own blogs (for those that have them), or post on like minded blogs denouncing such actions and hopefully setting the record straight about any such misuse of other person’s words.

I do NOT support nor condone the attack of other Golden Dawn groups, but DO support those groups that are actually doing the Work, rather than puffing up their own egos for self-aggrandizement by attacking some person or organization.

“By the fruits of their words and actions shall they be known” springs to mind in regards to much of what is posted on the various blogs. I think that most people who read the blogs are discriminating enough to separate the wheat from the chaff; to be able to see what blogs like the one being discussed really are rather than what they seem. Those blogs and bloggers that promote a positive attitute and atmosphere of harmony are much better received than those that promote discord and negativity.

I too support and am friends with the Ciceros (for full disclosure). They have been both a tremendous help and encouragement to my own personal magical work, as well as to so many other people.

I think that we should move forward in a more positive light. While we must remain vigilant against those that will use our own verbiage to attack another, we are all discerning enough to see those acts and the people behind them for what they truly are.


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