Ogdoadic Tradition

The Ogdoadic Tradition is an important esoteric current forming an influential part of the mainstream Western Mystery Tradition. The term “Ogdoadic” implies “pertaining to the number eight”, which connotation denotes the essentially Hermetic nature of the current.[1] In like manner, the primary symbol of the Tradition is the Eight-pointed Star of Regeneration, an emblem representing the Regeneration of the Soul and Divine Inspiration. The Ogdoadic Tradition came into being when the Ancient Mystery Schools of Antiquity, born of the Egyptian and Chaldean religions, were combined with the Hellenistic Mysteries and Philosophy. The founders of the Tradition were masters of the Platonic and Neoplatonic schools who had been initiated into these Mysteries and received the keys to the practice of Theurgy. Its father-figure, according to initiates, is the celebrated Hermes Trismegistus. The heart of the Ogdoadic Tradition is what Plato, Iamblichus, Proclus, and other masters have described as “the sacred way of return”.[2][unreliable source?] The Tradition itself has been passed on via a line of transmission referred to as the “Golden Chain” (i.e., Chain of Adepts) through which it has been preserved up to the present.




The origins of the Ogdoadic Tradition lie in an amalgamation of the Mysteries of Egypt and Chaldea with those of ancient Greece. In Sumer, the birthplace of civilization as well as some of the earliest forms of religion, a number of esoteric principles and practices formed the basis of the magical knowledge then existent. These were subsequently transmitted to Egypt, where they became part of the esoteric traditions of the Land of the Nile. In this manner, the Theurgic Tradition came into being. Texts such as Poimandres, of unknown authorship, or Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis Aegyptiorum give testimony to the above.[3][4]

The Theurgic Tradition eventually absorbed the Hellenistic Mysteries transmitted from ancient Greece. These originally included the Mysteries of Eleusis, Bacchus, Samothrace, and the like. They represented the esoteric aspect of the popular rites and beliefs associated with the many Pagan deities held in reverence. Some were intimately associated with various philosophical schools, such as the Platonic Academy of Athens, from which the later Neoplatonic tradition was derived. The sacred Mysteries were thereby combined with the rationalism of Philosophy, which constituted the real genius behind the esoteric tradition they represented. In the Ptolemaic period, Greek initiates were present in Alexandria, the cosmopolitan crucible of the ancient world, where the esoteric system of the Mysteries was incorporated by the Egyptian priests into their own. Out of this union emerged the Hermetic Theurgic Tradition, also known as the Ogdoadic Tradition and represented by Ordo Aurum Solis.

Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

During the Late Antique period, the Ogdoadic Tradition saw expression in the works of the early Hermetists as well as the Neoplatonic schools of Alexandria, Apamea, and Athens. In the aftermath of the last of these philosophical schools being closed by the Emperor Justinian in +529 CE, the Ogdoadic Tradition became veiled under the cover of secrecy and continued thus, transmitted from generation to generation through the Golden Chain over the course of several centuries. Its philosophy and symbols, however, appeared in Byzantine art as well as such examples of monumental construction as the Baptistery at Florence.

The 13th century saw the reappearance of the Ogdoadic Tradition in Italy under the guise of the esoteric society known as the Fideli d’Amore. The Florentine family of Cavalcanti was essential to the development of this society, and made notable contributions to the Western Mystery Tradition not only through their own lives and work but also those they initiated into the folds of the Fideli d’Amore. Among these were Dante Alighieri (c. 1265-1321 CE), who was introduced to the society by the poet Guido Cavalcanti, and the renowned philosopher and mystic, Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499 CE), who was received into the same at the hands of Giovanni Cavalcanti. This last was confirmed by Ficino’s own written testimony.[5][unreliable source?]


The 15th century marked a special time with regard to the Ogdoadic Tradition. In Florence, a council of the Christian Churches of the East and West was organized, at which Gemistus Pletho (1355-1452 CE) was present as one of the specialists then called for. Pletho was not only a Greek philosopher but an initiate of the Ogdoadic Tradition who brought the esoteric current with him to Florence. Publicly, he was responsible for handing over to Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464 CE), unofficial leader of the Republic of Florence, the ancient texts associated with the Tradition. In private, however, he initiated the group that worked at the Villa Careggi into the initiatic mysteries of the Neoplatonic tradition as well as Theurgy. The Villa Careggi had been provided by Cosimo de Medici in an attempt to found a “new Platonic academy”. Marsilio Ficino, who was also initiated into the Fideli d’Amore, was appointed as head of the new academy, after which he began the translation of Plato’s works into Latin alongside the Enneads of Plotinus, other Neoplatonic texts, and the collection known as the Corpus Hermeticum.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] The initiation of the group that met at the Villa Careggi by Pletho was a momentous event marking the first rebirth of the Ogdoadic Tradition.

The Careggi Circle’s work in the early days of the Renaissance was to have enormous ramifications, the influence of which may still be observed. Scholars, poets, and philosophers came to its doorstep in the hopes of receiving initiation or converse with its members. Among those influenced to great extent by the initiates of the Careggi Circle were Johann Reuchlin (1455-1522 CE), the pioneer German Qabalist, and Erasmus (1466-1536 CE), the Dutch humanist who was instrumental in spreading Renaissance learning throughout Europe.

17th, 18th, and 19th centuries

The 17th century saw the appearance of the Order of the Helmet, which has been associated with the figure of Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626 CE) as well as several others. The literature that was produced by members of this society was to be of great influence, inspiring individuals with yearning for the Mysteries up to this very day.

It was succeeded during the 18th century by the Societas Rotae Fulgentis (i.e., “Society of the Blazing Wheel”). It was one of a number of “antiquarian” and “folklore” societies that yet existed in England in the late 19th century, chronicling curiosities and pursuing their own chosen researches. The Societas Rotae Fulgentis restored the link with the last Neoplatonic initiates, heirs to the ancient Ogdoadic Tradition transmitted by Gemistus Pletho. In 1897, out of the inner circle of the Societas Rotae Fulgentis was born Ordo Aurum Solis, in which the "Golden Chain of Adepts" has been preserved and continued up to the present.[citation needed]

Golden Chain

The Golden Chain of the Ogdoadic Tradition, often referred to as the Chain of Adepts, is the primary initiatic line of transmission behind the Tradition itself as well as Ordo Aurum Solis. It represents a very ancient lineage of masters and initiates, who were the true founders and preservers of the Ogdoadic Tradition. Strongly associated with the Pythagorean, Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools, among the revered names that appear in the Golden Chain are such figures as Plato, Plotinus, Iamblichus, and Proclus.[14][unreliable source?]

Hermetism and Neoplatonism

Hermetism has been described as the heart of the Neoplatonic heritage behind the Ogdoadic Tradition. While its principles give shape to the practice of Theurgy, Hermetism also provides a rational standpoint towards life. The Neoplatonic aspect of the Ogdoadic Tradition represents a type of idealism to which various elements of Polytheism are wed. Its fundamental beliefs, however, are rooted in traditional spirituality. The Neoplatonic tradition contains two essential aspects: a theoretical side and a practical one. The theoretical aspect deals with the lofty origins of the human soul and how that soul has descended from the same. The practical aspect concerns itself with the return of the soul to its former high station.[15][unreliable source?]

Three pillars

The Ogdoadic Tradition is based upon three pillars. These are as follows:

  1. Theurgy, called the Ritual pillar
  2. Philosophy, called the Theoretical pillar
  3. Epicurism, called the Physical pillar

The first of these pillars, Theurgy, has been described by Iamblichus as having for goal the “purification, liberation, and salvation of the soul” by way of sacred rituals.[16] The second pillar, that of Philosophy, entails the theoretical aspect of the Ogdoadic Tradition and is not limited to the texts of philosophers but includes all facets of the Western Mystery Tradition; that is, it involves Hebrew and Greek Qabalah, Hermeticism, theology, sacred languages, alchemy, astrology, and the like. The third pillar, based on Epicurism, concerns itself with “being here and now” without a denial of the physical body.[17][unreliable source?] As a result of this, the Ogdoadic Tradition recognizes that seeking after Beauty and Harmony, alongside one’s partaking in balanced pleasures in day-to-day life, is the basis upon which inner stability is built.

Ordo Aurum Solis

In 1897, Ordo Aurum Solis was founded as a vehicle to promote the study and practice of Hermetism and Neoplatonic Theurgy as preserved by the Ogdoadic Tradition. Within Ordo Aurum Solis, the Golden Chain of Adepts was preserved and continued by the Grand Masters of the Order. Ordo Aurum Solis is best known to the world through the writings of two of its former Grand Masters, Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips. Their seminal work entitled The Magical Philosophy, since republished in three volumes, describes the philosophy and praxis of Ordo Aurum Solis and the Ogdoadic Tradition.[18][19][20]

On June 14, 2003, Osborne Phillips retired as Grand Master of Ordo Aurum Solis and was succeeded by Jean-Louis de Biasi, the current Grand Master. Recent developments of particular note with regard to Ordo Aurum Solis include the formal announcement of a religious expression of the Ogdoadic Tradition referred to as the Ecclesia Ogdoadica. Priests of the Ecclesia Ogdoadica are initiates of Ordo Aurum Solis devoted to re-establishing the cult of the ancient divinities, as taught by the Sacred Texts of Hermetism, as well as promoting a Hermetic way of life.

Other developments include the organization of occasional training seminars by Ordo Aurum Solis that deal with various aspects of the Ogdoadic Tradition. Moreover, new books in English by the current Grand Master of the Order will be released shortly by Llewellyn Publications. Among such works are The Divine Arcana of the Aurum Solis: Using Tarot Talismans for Ritual & Initiation, and Becoming Gods: Invoking the Powerful Divinities to Transform and Enjoy your Life.[21][22]


  1. ^ Denning, Melita, and Osborne Phillips. The Foundations of High Magick: The Magical Philosophy. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2000.
  2. ^ http://www.aurumsolis.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=57&Itemid=57&lang=en
  3. ^ Mead, G.R.S. (tr.). The Corpus Hermeticum. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, 2010.
  4. ^ Taylor, T. (tr.). On the Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians: Life of Pythagoras. Westbury: Prometheus Trust, 1999.
  5. ^ http://www.aurumsolis.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=65&lang=en
  6. ^ Armstrong, A.H. (tr.). Plotinus: Volume I, Porphyry on Plotinus, Ennead I. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.
  7. ^ Armstrong, A.H. (tr.). Plotinus: Volume II, Ennead II. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.
  8. ^ Armstrong, A.H. (tr.). Plotinus: Volume III, Ennead III. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.
  9. ^ Armstrong, A.H. (tr.). Plotinus: Volume IV, Ennead IV. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.
  10. ^ Armstrong, A.H. (tr.). Plotinus: Volume V, Ennead V. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.
  11. ^ Armstrong, A.H. (tr.). Plotinus: Volume VI, Ennead VI. 1-5. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.
  12. ^ Armstrong, A.H. (tr.). Plotinus: Volume VII, Ennead VI. 6-9. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988.
  13. ^ Mead, G.R.S. (tr.). The Corpus Hermeticum. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, 2010.
  14. ^ http://www.aurumsolis.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49&Itemid=72&lang=en
  15. ^ http://www.aurumsolis.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=57&Itemid=57&lang=en
  16. ^ Taylor, T. (tr.). On the Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldeans and Assyrians: Life of Pythagoras. Westbury: Prometheus Trust, 1999.
  17. ^ http://www.aurumsolis.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=57&Itemid=57&lang=en
  18. ^ Denning, Melita, and Osborne Phillips. The Foundations of High Magick: The Magical Philosophy. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2000.
  19. ^ Denning, Melita, and Osborne Phillips. The Sword and the Serpent: The Two-Fold Qabalistic Universe. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2005.
  20. ^ Denning, Melita, and Osborne Phillips. Mysteria Magica: Fundamental Techniques of High Magick. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2004.
  21. ^ de Biasi, Jean-Louis. The Divine Arcana of the Aurum Solis: Using Tarot Talismans for Ritual & Initiation. Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications, forthcoming.
  22. ^ de Biasi, Jean-Louis. Becoming Gods: Invoking the Powerful Divinities to Transform and Enjoy your Life. Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications, forthcoming.

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