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Melita Denning (Vivian Godfrey Barcynski) & Osborne Phillips (Leon Barcynski) – Colquhoun Refutation

Colquhoun Refutation

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Melita Denning (Vivian Godfrey Barcynski) & Osborne Phillips (Leon Barcynski) (1977)

The last paragraph of Chapter Fifteen of ‘Sword of Wisdom’, by Ithell Colquhoun, has recently been brought to our attention by the Bardic and Druid Order (O.B.O.D.)

According to Ms. Colquhoun (and to whatever gossip she is recording) the Hermetic Order of the Sacred Word – by which is obviously meant the autonomous pre-1971 Order – claimed descent from Stella Matutina; held meetings on Bardic and Druid Order premises; changed its name to The Order of the Light and of the Darkness; amalgamated with the A.D.U.B.; and either came to an end or went over to the Left-hand Path (Ms. Colquhoun’s utterance, although vaguely derogatory, here defies analysis:- “I understand that the darkness has now overcome the light”, she says.)

The facts are these. The Hermetic Order of the Sacred Word derived succession from the Order Aurum Soils, from which it broke away in 1957, to be reunited with that Order in 1971. There was no room, therefore, for any claim to be made by it to the effect of deriving from Stella Matutina. Further, no trace of any claim to Stella Matutina origins is to be found in autonomous S.W. documentation, nor is any such claim mentioned or made for S.W. in ‘The Magical Philosophy’ (the teachings of Aurum Soils-Sacred Word, Volume I of which was published well before the first appearance of “Sword of Wisdom”), nor has any initiate of the Sacred Word ever had any grounds for belief that he had been initiated into Stella Matutina.

Certainly, a Golden Dawn influence was strong in the Sacred Word, and the bias was apparent in its workings; but this can hardly be interpreted as a claim to descent from Stella Matutina. The reason for the G.D. bias have to be traced to an episode in the history of its parent Order, Aurum Soils, and are given explicitly in the first volume of The Magical Philosophy. Aurum Solis itself is entirely independent of Stella Matutina both in its origin and in its fundamental tradition; a tradition which is demonstrated in The Magical Philosophy, with historical evidence of its development ranging over many centuries.

The “Order of the Light and of the Darkness” is the name by which Ms. Colquhoun incorrectly refers to the Order Lux in Tenebris (“Light in Darkness”); and Lux in Tenebris is quite another matter from Sacred Word. Roger Hunt of the Hermetic Order of the Sacred Word, and Ross Nichols of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, between them in 1968 created Lux in Tenebris, the inner name of which was ‘Horus and Harpocrates.” It is true that some Druid and some S.W. members worked its ritual; but neither the College of the O.B.O.D. nor the College of the S.W. ever accorded recognition to it, and the experiment was ephemeral. It probably is the foundation of the rumour which Ms. Colquhoun passes on to her readers, about Sacred Word meetings held at O.B.O.D. premises, although in fact Sacred Word meetings were never held at O.B.O.D premises, and Lux in Tenebris functioned on neutral ground.

As to the S.W. having amalgamated with the A.D.U.B., we cannot offer any interpretation of this; it is pure fiction. Now, there was no need whatever for Ms. Colquhoun to have written of the Sacred Word in such ignorance as her paragraph of concentrated errors and distortions seems to indicate. The College of that Order, or after 1971 of the Aurum Solis, would have given her an authoritative interview and would have answered her questions as far as was constitutionally allowable.

Further, Sword of Wisdom was published in 1975. Not only was the first volume of ‘The Magical Philosophy’ published in 1974 (by which year the first four volumes were with Llewellyn Publications) but the summary contained in Volume I, of the history of the Orders of Aurum Solis and Sacred Word, had appeared as an article in Gnostica News (Llewellyn) in 1973, and should have been quite sufficient to disabuse any serious researcher of any idea that the Sacred Word claimed Stella Matutina origin. We add that if Ms. Colquhoun had wished to contact the Sacred Word for first-hand information, she would not have had far to seek; for instance, the Order had an article in “The Aquarian Guide” published by Aquarian Press in 1970, and could have been contacted through the editor of that work. Or various members of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids likewise could have forwarded a letter; so, for that matter, could a number of well-known occultists, not to mention the simple possibility of contact through the publishers of ‘The Magical Philosophy’, Llewellyn Publications.

We emphasise these points because the outcome of Ms. Colquhoun’s carelessness is so regrettable. There was really no reason why, in a book intended to deal only with Golden Dawn descent and history, she need have mentioned Sacred Word at all. As she has mentioned it, it is necessary for us to insist that she make adequate public retraction of her misleading statements. This is only just, both to our work and to her own.