Feminist Action in and through Tarot and Modern Occult Society: The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, UK and The Builders of the Adytum, USA

Catharine Christof


   Using a feminist theoretical framework, this article explores the links between the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Builders of the Adytum and the widespread dissemination of the Tarot in early twentieth century Western culture as historical operatives in the chronological, narrative history of feminism. Because these orders and some of the individuals within them sought to rebalance the issue of exclusive male leadership in occult circles, their actions served to promote women’s equality within the occult world. We can note these orders and their operatives studied herein as providing a ‘magical bridge’ to some of the culturally widespread feminist activity in the twentieth century. Using the issue of the equality of women as a ‘universal entity’, this article concludes that these occult initiatic movements have had a significant impact on the history of feminism – and can therefore themselves be understood as feminist movements.

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