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New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn (NROOGD)

New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn (NROOGD)

The NROOGD is an American Witchcraft tradition which was founded by a group of San Franciscans interested in the occult; they banded together to perform an archetypal Witches' Sabbath for a class at a San Francisco university in 1968. Using published sources from Robert Graves, Margaret Murray, and Gerald Gardner, a ritual was composed which serves as the basis of the NROOGD practice. After repeat performances, the group created an identity for themselves and trained others in its performance. The name they chose, New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn, is a play on the attitudes they had toward what they were doing and upon their spiritual antecedents. NROOGD is a wholly new tradition stemming from the magical order known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn; they consider themselves their spiritual and magical successors.

The mother circle of NROOGD "hived off" (branched off into) daughter and granddaughter covens. In 1976, the governing body of the order, called the Red Cord Council, was dissolved and the NROOGD became known as a tradition. Those groups tracing their lines of initiation back to a member of the original group and that share certain forms of liturgy consider themselves part of the NROOGD tradition. Covens are autonomous and recognize one another's initiates. The identities of initiates are held in strictest confidence.

Coven esbats are usually held skyclad; they work on ethical magic and the celebration of the divinity of each participant. The covens recognize and greet the force of a Goddess and God.

Initially, the ritual performance required three priestesses and one priest, but now this form is usually reserved for large public rituals; the smaller coven meetings require only one of each. Although magical workings vary in form and content, they often include charms and simple poetry. Mythic enactments corresponding to a needed transformation may also be performed.

During the late 1980s and 1990s, younger members expanded inherited liturgy by writing new poetry and songs for new rituals. The NROOGD encourages creative expression, and these new writings serve to keep the tradition alive.

The core NROOGD ritual, written by Aidan Kelly and others, begins with a line dance in the form of an inward and then outward spiral, representing death and rebirth, with coveners singing a chant"Tout, tout, tout, throughout and about!" Afterward, conjurations of elements, which go into a central "Charging Bowl," begin with "I conjure salt for savor." Gods, demigods, or other spirits at each of the cardinal directions serve as Guardians of the Circle and of the Elements. Each coven has their own guardians that are unique from other covens. Names of the Gods are idiosyncratic to each group and the names are kept secret.

The sharing of food and drink (called a Love Feast) concludes the ritual, as members prepare themselves to reenter their daily lives.

Three initiations distinguish the practice of NROOGD. The first initiation, called the White Cord, marks the entrance either into the NROOGD community, or into a particular coven's instruction. The second initiation, called the Red Cord, is a full initiation into the Mysteries of Witchcraft. Red Cord initiates are elders of the tradition, and are empowered to lead their own covens and train and initiate. The third initiation is not bestowed by human hand but rather by the Gods themselves, and is called a Black Cord, or Taking the Garter. This last is the most intensely personal of the three.

The order holds large public ritual celebrations at each of the eight Sabbats for the benefit of the greater Pagan community. The most unique of these celebrations is the re-enactment of the Eleusinian Mysteries in the fall. Area covens also meet periodically to decide responsibilities for the coming year.

NROOGD member covens are primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area, yet elders are found all over California, the Pacific Northwest, Michigan, and on the East Coast. There is no central authority nor spokesperson for the tradition.

The order publishes a quarterly magazine called The Witches Trine, consisting of news, articles, poetry and reviews relating to the NROOGD tradition and Witchcraft in general.


About the NROOGD. May 1, 2000.

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