“If we want to discover our own creativity and ability to change ourselves and the world, it is imperative that we learn from those women and men who practiced such transformative magic before us.” ~Mary K. Greer

Tarot scholar Mary K. Greer is the author of numerous books on divination and the Tarot. She is also an authority on The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the magical women who were the heart and soul of that Order. Greer presents the intertwined biographies of Maud Gonne, Moina Bergson Mathers, Annie Horniman, and Florence Farr in Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses. Her book is an inspirational account of these women, who she refers to as “spiritual foremothers of women practicing magic today.” Near the end of her book, Greer presents ” twelve resources these women shared in common in their personal histories of liberation: twelve conditions that name their powers and describe the factors working for them.” Here is her list of what these four mystical pioneers had in common:

Twelve Resources for Empowerment


1.  From a sociological perspective, they had enough money for independent living: what Virginia Woolf identified as a need for “a room of one’s own.” That is, a material “space” or material advantage that would allow enough distance from society to “breathe.”

2.  They found outcast communities and acquired outsider philosophies that supported beliefs in personal power.

3.  They all learned and practiced some form of artistic expression that they used for themselves and others…Art allows one to consciously channel what could be potentially destructive or creative forces from the subliminal mind.

4.  They operated in a metaphoric universe in which they perceived everything as connected. They understood that every thought affected something else and that there was a message in each experience that, if understood, could enhance the quality of life.

5.  They believed they could influence events. Such a belief arose from numerous factors: acting outside the limited sphere of home; working as equals with the “privileged” gender–men; but most importantly, accessing and controlling (by using metaphor and correspondences) etheric equivalents of the physical plane in vision and ritual that resulted in predictable physical manifestations.

6.  They crafted a creative direction for themselves by naming their most valued characteristics–as their own source of power. In identifying and magically embodying cherished values in their magical names, they empowered themselves to achieve values in their magical names, they empowered themselves to achieve goals richly imbued with paradox and metaphor. Additionally, they regularly assumed these characteristics whenever they acted under their magical names. Dion Fortune theorizes that through the magical name we extend consciousness into realms usually occupied by subconsciousness and awaken deep memories of how to function on the astral plane.

7.  They said yes and no; they made choices. They affirmed and they set boundaries. They chose a definite direction to pursue as part of their rebellion. They chose a definite direction to pursue as part of their rebellion. To do so, they said “no” to conventional responsibilities and the expectations of society and family. yet even in their rebellions they chose certain essential life-affirming boundaries, so that they acted mostly within the law.

8.  They acted at moments of decision or crisis, facing problems as creative challenges, allowing for paradox, and creating “uniquely fitting situations.” They faced and overcame personal as well as social problems and obstacles.

9.  They were self-conscious and self-reflecting–using tools as the Tarot, astrology, the Tree of Life, and writing to further their process. Their self-reflective goals were to perceive the diversity and interrelationships of their own personality characteristics; to discern choices and options; to clarify their objectives and paths; to evaluate their previous experience; and to perceive truths–in other words, to learn.

10.  They understood the diversity of personality characteristics within themselves, and so were able to integrate or reject negative projections from others. Studies and rituals that advanced them through the four elements required that they acknowledge and learn to integrate strengths, weaknesses and opposing forces from within. Techniques of psychic protection gave them a means to sidestep projections or return them to their sender.

11.  They all used “centering” experiences that renewed their sense of their own divinity. These included rituals of renewal and advancement–initiation, the seasons, consecration of implements, and Rising on the Planes–which gave them transcendent experiences of knowing themselves as part of the One, existing beyond time and space. They opened themselves regularly to that inner strength and contentment characterized by contact with the spark of Divine Consciousness.

12.  Last, they practiced magic–fusing will, imagination, and desire to transcend the limits of the normal experience. the practice of magic required the combination of all the foregoing factors in order to participate in the etheric world and to mediate between the material and astral realms. Specifically, the techniques harnessed a highly developed imagination and absolutely focused will, powered by pure, impersonal desire to predictably influence consciousness and events. Their techniques included: protection, such as banishing, and use of the sphere of sensation, invoking, using numerous means (hexagrams, talismans, names, etc.); and information-gathering methods such as divination (ring and disk, Tarot, astrology, geomancy), skrying, and astral traveling. Florence (Farr) defined magic as “unlimiting experience.” She taught that we “can attain a state of consciousness in which all our powers become supernatural…capable of transferring ideas from one to another [realm], [training] consciously evoked imagination.

Greer also writes:


I urge both men and women to draw from the knowledge of generations of magical women and partake fully of the power of womanhood. By accessing this feminine strength, we can put an end to abuse and victimization and yet meet the needs of our human tribe. There is goddess power in realizing that our own feminine core is of the utmost worth and value. Women of magic are powerful–potentially dangerous and potentially beatific. The magical women of the Golden Dawn lived courageous lives that embodied archetypes of empowerment for all men and women. This book is offered as a means of honoring and learning from them.

Taking their twelve techniques and resources into our own hearts–may we discover also the ability to:

1. Be independent.

2. Find community.

3. Express yourself artistically.

4. Try out ideas metaphorically.

5. Influence events.

6. Name yourself and your goals.

7. Affirm yet set limits.

8. Respond to problems as creative challenges.

9. Be self-conscious and self-reflecting.

10. Allow for inner diversity.

11. Periodically center and renew your connection with spirit.

12. Unlimit experience.

With which of these twelve resources do you resonate? Which of them will you take into your heart? Are you already working with some of them? Are there any you could work on today or this week? Feel free to comment below.

Women of the Golden Dawn