8. Two Esoteric Schools Worthy of Special Mention

The preceding section outlined most of the major figures in the history of the occult Tarot. However, one of the indirect results of their life’s work was the creation of two esoteric schools worthy of special mention. The founders of these schools, added to that list, make it almost complete:

  1. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
    • William Robert Woodman    1828-1891
    • William Wynn Westcott         1848-1925
    • Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers           1854-1918
  2. Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.)
    • Paul Foster Caste          1884-1954

While there have been many other such organizations, past and present, these two are especially significant to our contemporary Tarot culture. The Golden-Dawn seems to have forged the most coherent synthesis of (what has become known as) the western esoteric tradition— especially as it pertains to magical theory and practice with the Tarot as its center-piece (see A History of Occult Tarot 96, 113). While the Golden Dawn is no more, their (formerly secret) literature is now widely available and continues to be studied by students of Tarot and ritual magic, alike. Moreover, shortly after their organizational demise, one of their younger and more precocious members, Paul Foster Case, founded B.O.T.A—an organization which is still functioning today, nearly a century later.

Two additional organizations are also worth mentioning, in passing:

  1. Ordo Templi Orientis or O.T.O. (‘Order of Oriental Templars’)
    “Founded at the beginning of the 20th century by Carl Kellner and Theodor Reuss. English author and occultist Aleister Crowley is the best-known and most influential member of the order.”  ~ Wikipedia
  2. The Gnostic Society and Ecclesia Gnostica
    Currently headed by Bishop Stephan Hoeller
    [gnosis.org] (See also Stephan Hoeller’s lectures on YouTube.)

Next Up:  –>  9. Contemplative Tarot