One of the things that has consistently nagged at me for a very long time as I have worked within the Golden Dawn tradition is its use of the swastika, or fylfot cross. The symbol has an ancient history long pre-dating its appropriation by the Third Reich, and has even been called the “Hermetic Cross” in addition to its various other names. While I appreciate the history, however, and while I understand and accept it, we in the modern day simply cannot get around the fact that in a post-WWII era world, even the Hindu form of the swastika which the Golden Dawn uses has taken on deeply unfortunate connotations that hold a lot of trauma for a lot of people–especially in the West, where the symbol isn’t an integral part of our cultural heritage. And given that we are at a cultural inflection point where we already have to worry about the Golden Dawn name being sullied by the Greek fascist party of the same name, it seems like the time has never been better to rethink the use of this symbol and the baggage it now carries.
The central problem with rethinking the use of the swastika and potentially replacing it, however, is that the symbolic language of the Golden Dawn is incredibly complex. In order to make any changes, you have to deeply understand all of the various touch points that will be impacted by any such change, and ensure that you aren’t doing violence to the many layers of meaning that depend upon any given symbol.
For reference, here is an illustration of the swastika as it is used in its capacity as admission badge for the grade of Zelator. It is typically represented in the Malkuth colors of citrine, olive, russet, and black.
In order to maintain consistency of meaning with the swastika, it’s essential that the central elements of symbolic meaning be maintained. In this case, the symbol must be in the form of a cross to be consistent with the rest of the Outer Order admission badges, it must preserve the overarching solar meaning behind the swastika, and–perhaps the most challenging requirement–it must be able to contain and represent the four astrological triplicities and their associated elements in balanced fashion while laying these out in their corresponding directional quarters. (It will be noted that while the admission badge is colored in the Malkuth colors according to the Four Winds attribution, the symbols are arrayed within the badge according to the astrological directional scheme in which Fire is in the East, Earth is in the South, etc.).
After returning to these considerations multiple times over the years, I believe I have finally devised a suitable drop-in replacement for the swastika as the admission badge of Zelator and as the lamen of the Dadouchos.
Shown above in the Malkuth colors used on the Zelator admission badge, this symbol maintains the form of the cross, the solar attribution, and the layout and ordering of the triplicities and elemental symbols. The coloring of the circle around the cross additionally lends the hint of clockwise motion which is implicit in the original admission badge. While naturally the associated verbiage in the Zelator Ceremony and the associated Knowledge Lecture would need to be adapted accordingly, I have been sitting with and meditating upon the symbol and have been unable thus far to identify any points of potential conflict that would do unintentional violence to the system.
If the Golden Dawn tradition is going to survive and thrive going forward, we need to innovate. We must honor and pay homage to the past, but we need to not be afraid to change how we do things, how we teach, and how we structure things. And that includes making changes to the established ceremony and symbolism when a compelling reason exists to do so. In this case, I think there’s a sufficiently compelling reason.
Feedback is more than welcome! Please comment or email me if you have any thoughts, or if you see a shortcoming that I hadn’t considered. Experimentation is how we learn, and collaboration is how we grow together. The input is always appreciated.
Special thanks to Taylor Bell, who took my concept and transformed it into the polished diagram above. Be sure to check out his Green Lion Podcast!