From Library Journal
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was a society of magicians formed in 1888 that attracted men like William Butler Yeats and Aleister Crowley. Unknown to most is that four women-Maud Gonne, Moina Bergson Mathers, Annie Horniman, and Florence Farr-were actively and equally involved in the order. Greer (Tarot for Yourself, Newcastle Pub., 1984) explores alternately the stories of these strong, interesting women from their adulthood to their deaths. Her book is well researched and well written and has an excellent bibliography. However, constructing the narrative of intertwining biographies is confusing and unsatisfactory, and analyzing each woman's horoscope will stretch the modern scholar's credulity more than a little, however important astrology was to these women. Balancing the strengths and the weaknesses of this book, it is a dubious purchase for most libraries.Gail Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology Lib., Alfred
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was founded in London in 1888. One of several secret magical societies in existence at the time, the Golden Dawn was noted for the equality it offered women both in its internal hierarchy and when performing mystical ceremonies. While this magical order attracted several more famous followers, William Butler Yeats and George Bernard Shaw among them, Greer's purpose in writing this book is to highlight the lives of four female members. They are Florence Farr, actress; Annie Horniman, patron of the arts; Maud Gonne, aristocratic revolutionary; and Moina Bergson Mathers, artist. All managed to escape suffocating Victorian lifestyles and eventually formed the backbone of the Golden Dawn. In this massive book, Greer explores the many years of intensive study of occult and mystical traditions the women undertook and the personal triumphs and tragedies they experienced along the way. Packed with anecdotes about major literary figures of the time, this account provides a provocative picture of four strong and brilliant women who refused to be hindered by the dictates of Victorian society. However, while this book may prove intriguing as a historical or biographical work, its use of astrology and magic to draw conclusions or explain occurrences may prove distracting to some readers. Kathleen Hughes