Modern History

Late 1800’s

In the late 1800’s, a group of three members of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (S.R.I.A.), William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Wescott, and Samuel Liddel Mathers, formed a new esoteric organization known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Using foundational documents known as the Cipher Manuscripts (decoded primarily by Wescott), they created an initiatory system of study and ritual based upon Hermetic philosophy and assorted practices of the Western Mystery Tradition.

William Wynn Wescott

Samuel Liddel Mathers

In 1888 they opened their first temple in London and admitted both men and women. Their rituals and practices were designed using the Rosicrucian grade system. Over the next thirty years the HOGD would expand and splinter into several similar organizations. One of these Orders, known as the Alpha et Omega (headed by Mathers), spread to the United States in the early 1900s, including the Thoth-Hermes Temple in New York
In 1918, a man by the name of Paul Foster Case, a life-long student of the Qabalah, was admitted into the Alpha et Omega and initiated into Thoth-Hermes Temple. After years within the organization, Case eventually left to form a new esoteric organization for the study of the Hermetic Qabalah called the Builders of the Adytum (BOTA), which is still in existence today. As part of that work he designed an updated Tarot deck, wrote several books and a created significant amount of correspondence work designed for individual study of the Tarot, Qabalah, and Alchemy. These exemplary lessons are still available today through bota.org.
 In addition to writing many books and correspondence courses, Case edited and added to the materials associated with the initiated section of the Golden Dawn.  His new rituals altered the tools called the elemental tablets, as well as some of the other dialogue and regalia.

Paul Foster Case

Ann Davies

In the 1950’s after decades of dedicated service to the Light, Paul Case passed the leadership of the BOTA on to his successor, Ann Davies, who continued to teach, write and build the organization until her death in 1975. During her tenure as Prolocutor General she trained seven young aspirants, known as the “stewards,” to carry on the tradition and disseminate the work of the BOTA. The first student to be named as one of these stewards was Paul Clark, who joined the BOTA at the age of 12. This was an unprecedented occurrence and required Reverend Davies’ special dispensation. Throughout his time as a member of the BOTA, Paul Clark taught classes, established new Pronaoi, and performed the duties of the Executive Counselor (a role previously held by Harriet Case). He was also personally trained by Ann Davies for a role in future leadership. When Ann passed, her husband Jacob Fuss, took over as her successor. However due to infighting he would only remain in that role for a short period of time. Soon after he was ousted from his position, Will Chesterman, was elected as Prolocutor General or head of the BOTA.
Recognizing Paul’s abilities and dedication, Will Chesterman had given Paul Clark copies of much of the material in the BOTA archives. These archives were provided for the purpose of starting the order anew if Paul ever felt it was necessary to do so. In 1982, along with five other former BOTA initiates, Dr. Paul Clark founded the Fraternity of the Hidden Light and was installed as its leader. Dr. Clark was dedicated to sharing and spreading knowledge of the Hermetic Qabalah and making the grades of ritual initiation (as modified by Case) available to sincere and dedicated aspirants. During his time as Steward, Dr. Clark authored an extensive body of rituals, correspondence work, and books.
Paul’s trained successor, C.L. Forbes, has since embarked upon a new and exciting chapter in the evolution of the Hermetic Tradition. Along with the aid and support of other senior initiates, she formed the Ordo Hermeticus Mysteriorum for the purpose of perpetuating the ideals laid out in the Fama Fraternitas so long ago. The OHM remains committed to spreading Light to all interested seekers and strives to build upon the foundation of our predecessors. It is our mission to continue offering the grades of ritual initiation to all that are ready to receive them, and to provide coursework and community for those aspiring to learn the fundamentals of Hermeticism.

Ancient History

Humanity has always pondered the secrets of the universe.  For millennia, we have, as a species, looked for meaning and have sought greater understanding. Were we created by an omnipotent loving intelligence? Does life exist after death? Mystery Schools have long addressed these questions and have existed to help seekers to find answers within their own beings and consciousness.  They teach that the truth isn’t out there – it’s “in here.”  By exploring inner worlds with archetypal symbols and creating practices to open individual consciousness to Divine energies, humans have gained access to realities that would appear magical or miraculous to many.


These Mystery Schools date back to ancient times; have been created, have disappeared, and have then been reborn again from time-to-time in a number of civilizations around the world, both in the East and the West. In the West, notable among these Schools are those that were dedicated to Isis and Osiris, the Zoroastrian Mystery Schools, the Mysteries of Dionysus, the Mithraic Mysteries, the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Gnostics, the Essenes, the Sufis, the Knights Templar, and the Orders of the Golden and Rosy Cross

The systems of study and ritual used in Western Mystery Schools today can be traced to teachings in Ancient Egypt and Greece. Hermetic philosophy includes the foundational phrase, “Know Thyself” which is known to have been inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and is thought to have been used in Ancient Egypt as well. The Egyptian Mystery Schools were dedicated to training their students to serve the rest of their civilization by using mathematics, psychology, medicine/surgery, and astronomy. The Mystery Schools also taught spirituality and promulgated the idea that there is no necessity for an arbitrary demarcation between the outer and the inner life. The Egyptian Mystery Schools combined concepts that we would characterize as scientific with esoteric ones, to form a broader philosophical system.

In the Mystery Schools of Greece, students were taught that by “knowing self” they could become one with their Higher Soul and ultimately attain contact with super-consciousness. This process was aided through the cultivation of virtue, which built up the personality and aligned it more closely to the divine. In Greece, architecture was often a form of spiritual allegory.  A physical structure was a combination of symbols that corresponded to the work of building an “Inner Temple.”  Again, as in Egypt, mathematics and the power of numbers and proportion were used to convey Divine principles. For example, the irrational numbers of Pi and Phi were used to describe God. It was taught that the point at the center of a circle stood in relation to its circumference as a human individual might be conceived in relation to God. The concept of Phi was also used to represent the ratio or spatial relationship of the tiny atom to huge and distant planetary systems.  In this manner, the relationship of the parts of the universe to the whole was conceptualized.

Centuries later, extraordinary developments of the Western Mystery Tradition occurred in Europe, most notably in seventeenth century Germany.  A mysterious group of “seekers” declared themselves to be a secret brotherhood and they published an astounding allegory of initiation in documents called The Fama Fraternitatas, The Confessio, and The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz.  These same documents would later influence the creation of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia and the founding of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Moreover, these three seminal Rosicrucian works are the subject of Paul Foster Case’s book, The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order.  Today, they may still be mined as a treasury of images and narrative that point the way to illumination. A number of Western Mystery Schools continue to build upon all of these outstanding traditions, including the Ordo Hermeticus Mysteriorum.