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The Black and White Robes

Frater S.A. (Tony H.)

The Black Robe

The design of the robe within the Golden Dawn is based on
the design of the Tau Cross. The Tau cross relates to the
idea and symbolism of the Greek letter of the same name.
This is what is commonly thought of when thinking of the Tau
Robe. However there is much more meaning hidden within
the symbolism.
Within the Golden Dawn there are two versions of the Tau Robe worn by the
initiates. The first is the black robe worn in the Outer Order. There are two
aspects to understanding the symbolism of the Black robe, the first is found in
Roman mythology and the second in the ideas of Alchemy.
In Roman mythology the Tau Cross was a symbol used by the Cult of Mithra.
One of the focuses of the cult was the area of studying the stars, which is
reflected in the teachings of the Golden Dawn. Another Roman god using this
symbol is Attis. Attis was a god of life, death, and rebirth. Again these too relate
to the ideas of the Golden Dawn. This is the path of the initiate within the order,
the cycle of change that is undergone by the initiate as they pass through the
grades of the order.
In Alchemy is found the symbol of the Crucified Serpent. This
is a diagram of a serpent crucified on the Tau Cross. In
alchemy this is the "fixing of the volatile or, making the elixir of
mercury, a legendary curative, by removing the 'volatile' or
poisonous element.
In the teachings of the Golden Dawn the serpent is the Ego
or the poisonous element of the Self. The Ego of the initiate is
what must be brought under control or crucified on the cross
of the initiates will before they can advance to the higher

From this we can see that the black Tau robe is a reminder to the initiate of the
goal of there training and the first order of the Golden Dawn. It is also a symbol
of the cycles that they will travel through as they move through the grades.
Within each new grade the initiate moves through the cycle of change.

The White Robe

The second robe is the white robe worn in the second order. This robe
relates to the ideas of the Sumerian God Tammuz. This is the Sun god, the
ruler of the second temple found in the Sephiroth of Tiphareth of the
kabala. This is also thought of as the temple of the elemental kings. The
God Tammuz is the consort of the moon god Ishtar. This demonstrates the
idea of balance that is achieved through the workings of the
first order.
In Alchemy the white robe is the symbol of purity. By the
control of the ego the initiate has become the elixir of
mercury as reflected in the Greek symbol of the Asclepius
wand. In Greek mythology this is a symbol of healing.
Unlike the Crucified Serpent the Asclepius wand shows the
serpent below the head of the wand. Here the Ego is in
control of the will of the initiate. The control of the Ego is an
aspect of self healing, which is reelected in this symbol and
the white robe.
This leads us to the symbolism hidden in the White Tau
Robe. Within the teachings of the Kabala this is the
higher cross bring together the twin pillars of fire and
water, linking them to the Middle Pillar of Air.
Here too the outer temple of Yesod, the moon temple
forms the base of the Robe of the Adept. It is from the
learning of the outer temple that forms the bases for the
work of the second temple of the Adepts. This idea is
reflected in the four sub-degrees of the Adept Minors
But the White Robe, there also reflects the ideas found
in astrology. To understand this; one must first see that
the Tau cross is composed of 11 squares. Again this relates to the ideas of
the Ego and Will being in balance, 11 becoming 2 in numerology and the
idea of duality. This esoterically relates to the two arms of the cross and

the elemental Kings. This is also the reflection of the four elemental grades
of the outer order in the Adept Minor grade.

The Center pillar of the Tau

cross or robe is composed of
the seven ancient planets with
the God Tammuz in the center
and Ishtar at its base.
Around the sun revolves the
celestial sphere of the planets.
This forms the pattern of plants
found in the design of the
Adepts Lamen and the