Aleister Crowley, W.B. Yeats and the Magickal Battle of the Isis-Urania Golden Dawn Temple of Hammersmith
Blythe Road is a fittingly peculiar little corner of London to be the stage for one of the most remarkable incidents in the city’s long history.
Towards the end of 1899, the Adepts of the Isis-Urania (Hammersmith) and Amen-Ra temples had become dissatisfied with Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers’ leadership of the Golden Dawn as well as his growing friendship with Crowley. They were also anxious to make contact with the Secret Chiefs themselves, instead of relying on Mathers. Among the personal disagreements within the Isis-Urania temple, disputes were arising from Florence Farr’s The Sphere, a secret society within the Isis-Urania, and the rest of the Adepts Minor. Wikipedia
Crowley was refused initiation into the Adeptus Minor grade by the London officials. Mathers overrode their decision and quickly initiated him at the Ahathoor temple in Paris on January 16, 1900. Upon his return to the London temple, Crowley requested the grade papers to which he was now entitled from Miss Cracknell, the acting secretary. To the London Adepts, this was the last straw. Farr, already of the opinion that the London temple should be closed, wrote to Mathers expressing her wish to resign as his representative, though she was willing to carry on until a successor was found. Mathers replied on February 16, believing co-founder William Wynn Westcott was behind this turn of events.
Once the other Adepts in London were notified, they elected a committee of seven on March 3 and requested a full investigation of the matter. Mathers sent an immediate reply, declining to provide proof, refusing to acknowledge the London temple, and dismissing Farr as his representative on March 23. In response, a general meeting was called on March 29 in London to remove Mathers as chief and expel him from the Order.
It was on 19 April 1900, the first year of the 20th century, when the Irish poet W.B. Yeats came under astral siege in the headquarters of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at 36 Blythe Road, Hammersmith from a spell casting, hex issuing, kilt wearing, black Osiris masked Crowley armed with a ceremonial dagger intent on seizing the vaults within and claiming the temple and the order as his own, although at this point in time ostensibly on behalf of Macgregor Mathers.
Although Crowley’s flamboyant bid was thwarted by Yeats and the Metropolitan Police Constabulary, the inevitable schism that would ensue ultimately sealed the fate of the Golden Dawn who disbanded shortly after.
Crowley would go on to form the A.’.A.’. in 1907 with Cecil Jones.
The building is featured extensively as the fictional headquarters of MI6 in the 2011 film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
It is a repository of artifacts belonging to several museums including the British Museum. It is a suitably grand yet relatively obscure backdrop to which the nondescript temple of the Golden Dawn looked out upon, that and the domed roof of Olympia.