Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q:        What is the purpose of the Society? What are its influences?

A:        The Society’s principle aim is service to humanity through the methods of the Western Mysteries, alternatively known as the Western Esoteric Tradition. It is an initiatory body intended to continue and foster the Western Esoteric Tradition, through operation of an Outer Court, and the Mysteries beyond the Gate. The general historical designation of the tradition the Society works in is Hermetic although we also provide a programme in Natural Magic and seasonal celebrations. Importantly, the Society continues the tradition as exemplified by Dion Fortune and Charles Fielding, whilst also being influenced by the work of Melita Denning and Osbourne Phillips.


​Q:        What is the Western Esoteric Tradition?

A:         This is a term used to describe the sum total of the spiritual experience of the Western Cultures. It is sometimes referred to as “the Western Mystery Tradition.”

Q:        What does esoteric mean?

A:         The Cambridge dictionary defines esoteric as an adjective which means, “very unusual; understood or liked by only a small number of people, especially those with special knowledge.” The converse of esoteric is exoteric, which effectively means “for the many.”


Q:        What is a Mystery?

A:         A Mystery can be defined as “a truth that is above reason.” A Mystery is an aspect of human experience that cannot be explained by the intellect. However, it can be experienced and, in turn, that experience can be symbolised in various ways. The use of ritual, contemplation, and pathworking (imaginary journeys) are some of the many ways that initiates can be led to an experience and understanding of the Mysteries.


Q:        Who or what is an initiate?

A:         An initiate is an individual who has been inducted into a properly “contacted” and constituted esoteric group. The initiate is an individual who has received that group’s symbol-system and has been formally contacted onto the spectrum of forces and forms with which that grade of the group is working.


Q:        What is a "contact"?

A:         A contact is the term given to a being of the inner planes (“invisible” levels of reality) with whom an Initiate, Adept, or group is linked and working. In one sense, contacts may be seen as highly evolved intelligences that guard and guide the life and purpose of an esoteric group and its members.


Q:        Where does the Society of the Western Mysteries come from and what does it offer?

A:         The Society of the Western Mysteries was formed in 2015 by previous members of the London Group, an esoteric group founded by Alan Adams (nom de plume Charles Fielding) who published two books - The Practical Qabalah and The Story of Dion Fortune. The London Group was a fraternity with circa 40 years’ history, coupled with The Star and The Cross, its sister group in Dallas, Texas. The London Group was created by three previous members of the Society of the Inner Light, two of whom had lived in the Fraternity at Queensborough Terrace. They formed what in the 1970s would become the London Group. The Group remained based in London until 2000, when it relocated to the Midlands. In 2015, after a decision was made to close the London Group, three of its members joined together with the previous Administrator General of the Ordo Astrum Sophiae to form the Society of the Western Mysteries. Its aims are to continue the work of the Western Mysteries.


Q:        What does the Society of the Western Mysteries offer Probationers?

A:         The Society offers Outer Court (Introductory) training in the Western Mystery Tradition. Successful completion of this Study Course may lead to an invitation to join the Inner Working Group of a twenty-first century esoteric fraternity whose key aim is Regeneration.

​​Q:        What happens when I have completed the Study Course?

A:         Successful completion of the Study Course may lead to an invitation to join the Inner Working Group.  However, entry into the Inner Working Lodge is not guaranteed.


Q:        Will I be automatically initiated into the Society of the Western Mysteries on completion of the Study Course?

A:         No. Initiation is by invitation only and is not an automatic right.


Q:        Am I obliged to join the Inner Working Group after successful completion of the Study Course?

A:         No. Some probationers are content to take what they have learnt and pursue their journey elsewhere.


Q:        How much work does the Study Course involve?

A:         You should allow circa 30-40 minutes a day for 5 or 6 days each week.


Q:        Does the work have to be done at a set time?

A:         No.  You determine when the work is done.


Q:        Will I have to travel to carry out the work?

A:         No.  The Study Course is undertaken by correspondence only.


Q:        Will I be assigned a personal Tutor/Mentor?

A:         Yes.


Q:        How long will the Study Course take?

A:         It usually takes approximately 12 to 18 months, although you may set a slower pace if this better suits your life circumstances.


Q:        If I decide the Study Course is not for me, can I leave it at any time?

A:         You are welcome to leave at any point during the Study Course if you decide it is not for you.  You do not have to provide a reason.  We will not persuade you to stay but will wish you well on your journey.  There are many paths to the Light.


Q:        How much does the Study Course cost?

A:         The course has four sequential modules. Each is charged on a “pay-as-you-go” basis at production cost. Please contact us for the current costs.


Q:        Will I get a refund if I leave the course prior to completing it?

A:         No. The course is charged on a “pay-as-you-go” basis; so you will have only paid for the material received which you are free to keep.


Q:        How old do I have to be to start the Study Course? Are there any exclusions to joining the course?

A:         You should be at least 21 years of age. Life experience and stability is important. Applications for joining the Outer Court programme or the Inner Working Group may be refused without explanation, though considerations such as sex, creed, gender, etc will not constitute a barrier. Generally, as rule, no person under the age of 25 years is eligible for initiation into the Society.


Q:        Why should I consider taking a study course or pursuing initiation into an esoteric society?

A:         You should ultimately answer this question yourself. However, we are happy to provide some views on the subject. As many of the basic practices and rituals of the Western Mystery Tradition are now openly available, it is indeed possible for the solo practitioner to make good progress along the Path. Indeed, there are those whose dispositions are best-suited to solo rather than collective work. The solo path is a valid means of attainment. However, in the Western Mystery Tradition an individual can only go so far by themselves. Experience has shown that beyond a certain point the journey can become obscure because it enters the world of the unknown. This is where the help available within an esoteric fraternity comes in. Experienced and helpful companions on the path are essential as points of reference and reliable guides. An esoteric society is like a travelling caravan designed to take groups safely through sometimes difficult, challenging and diverse landscapes stretching from the physical to the spiritual world. Working within an esoteric fraternity is a tried and tested method whereby an individual can become, and be, more than the sum total of their own individual knowledge or experience.


Q:        Is the Society of the Western Mysteries affiliated with any other organisations?

A:         No, although we maintain friendly relationships with like-minded organisations.


Q:        What is the Society of the Western Mysteries attitude to organised religion?

A:         We neither press upon the student any particular religious belief nor expect them to conform to a particular religious viewpoint.  There are many Paths, and we respect them all.


Q:        What is the Society of the Western Mysteries view on drugs?

A:         The use of illegal drugs is proscribed within the Group. This proscription excludes people who are prescribed drugs by professionally qualified medical practitioners. Certain drugs can provide a rapid and uncontrolled opening up to different aspects of consciousness outside most people’s mundane experience. However, what they do not do is provide the training, skills or framework to be able to control the access to altered consciousness, the resulting effects, or the return to normal consciousness. These are some of the reasons for proscription.


Q:        Can I be a member of another Esoteric Lodge as well as the Society of the Western Mysteries?

A:         This is generally not recommended unless you want indigestion. The Society of the Western Mysteries offers one particular and comprehensive pathway through the Western Mysteries. Following the pathways offered by two different groups can be likened to climbing two ladders at the same time with one pair of feet! Very few people can manage that.


Q:        If I am invited to join the Inner Working Group is there a cost going forwards?

​A:         Since initiations and advancements are spiritual gifts of the Society and those behind its work, no fees shall be charged for these. Any contributions to basic running costs are voluntary.