An influential occult secret society in the late twentieth-century magical community, Aurum Solis (Latin for “gold of the sun”) was originally founded in 1897 by British occultists Charles Kingold and George Stanton. With interruptions during the two world wars, it remained active in a quiet way through the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. It suffered a short-lived schism in 1957, when a group of members broke away over differences in the initiation ritual; the group thus formed, the Ordo Sacri Verbi (Order of the Sacred Word), rejoined the Aurum Solis when it was reconstituted in 1971.
At the time of its reconstitution, the Aurum Solis came under the leadership of Vivian and Leon Barcynski, two London occultists who set out to break the Aurum Solis out of its rut of obscurity. Using the pen names Melita Denning and Osborne Phillips, the Barcynskis published books on the teachings of the Aurum Solis that vaulted the society into prominence throughout the English-speaking occult scene. It has had its ups and downs since that time, but remains active in Britain. The Aurum Solis symbolism and techniques covered in their books have also influenced occultists throughout the western world.
According to its internal history, the Aurum Solis is one expression of the Ogdoadic Tradition, a system of magical initiation dating back to classical Greek times. Such older organizations as the Knights Templar, the Fideli d’Amore, and Francis Bacon’s Order of the Helmet are claimed as earlier expressions of the Ogdoadic Tradition. No real evidence of a distinct Ogdoadic Tradition can be found in records of occult traditions before the 1970s, however, nor do any of the Aurum Solis’ distinctive symbols and practices occur in any of these older orders, so it is fair to assume that these claims are simply another example of the retrospective recruitment so common among secret societies. See Bacon, Francis; Knights Templar; retrospective recruitment.
The Aurum Solis works three degrees, or Halls, each with their own distinctive symbolism. The teachings of the order, however, are very closely modeled on those of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, with the same blend of Cabalistic and Enochian material and exact equivalents for every ritual practice in the Golden Dawn toolkit, a point-for-point equivalence not found in any of the other Hermetic magical orders of the time. Another source for the Aurum Solis system is the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids, to which Vivian Barcynski belonged in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and from which the Aurum Solis seems to have borrowed some of its distinctive features. These borrowings have occasionally been presented as evidence that the Aurum Solis was invented out of whole cloth in 1971, at the time of its supposed reconstitution, but this does not necessarily follow; secret societies routinely rework their teachings and training programs in the light of new information, and material from other secret societies is among the most common raw material for such projects. See Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn; Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD).
The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006