It is easy to focus on the ceremony and magic in the Golden Dawn, and forget the more practical considerations of running a Temple, not least of all safety.
Below we provide some tips we learned from first-hand experience, by seeing mistakes made by others, by advice shared by our colleagues and friends, or by just plain common sense. We hope to update this over time so that it can be a useful resource for new Temples.
Temple Safety Tips
- Always be aware of the danger of fire. Cover naked flames where possible (glass candle containers, for example), and be mindful when approaching flames while wearing robes with dangling sleeves (use one hand to tuck the sleeve away while tending to the fire). Sometimes electric candles can be used, such as atop the pillars (given the risk of them being bumped into/knocked over). A fire extinguisher is also handy.
- It can be useful to employ a safety gas lighter (for a gas hob) for lighting incense or candles, as a normal lighter may result in many burned fingers (and is often more frustrating to use in ritual).
- Swords should never have live (sharp) blades, or there is risk of serious injury or death. Blunt swords provide all the necessary ritual flair, with less risk. However, don't assume there is no risk with a blunt sword, as a Masonic sword, for example, can be quite thin and pointy, and could still inflict severe injury. Anyone carrying a sword must take extra care. We have seen some people suggest resting the blade on the shoulder for giving the Signs, but the problem with this is that the sword point is facing behind the person, and they cannot see who is behind them. Generally a sword should always be held upright. When not in use, a scabbard can be employed.
- Hoodwinks should not be made in such a way as to cut off the airflow to a Candidate. With the Obligation and other lengthy parts of the ceremony, the Candidate needs to be able to breathe freely. Use breathable material, and be mindful that when the Candidate bows his/her head, the material may gather around the neck, further restricting airflow. The Candidate's safety should be the first and primary concern of the initiation team.
- When removing the hoodwink, be careful about being too forceful, as it can catch at the chin, or could take off someone's glasses. Gently guide it up until you are sure it can be removed without causing injury, and then the rest can be more suddenly unveiled.
- Make sure to tie the rope properly around the Candidate's waist, and tuck away any trailing piece of rope, which may trip him/her up during the ceremony.
- Be careful with spilled incense, water, wine, salt, or candle wax, which may make the floor slippery. Don't overdo the purification and consecration, and keep a cloth at hand for spills.
- Be mindful of those with asthma when it comes to incense, especially in smaller environments. The Temple doesn't need to be thick with smoke. Proper ventilation should be considered.
- Be extra careful during parts of ceremonies where the lights may be off. Ensure there is nothing blocking the route the Candidate and his/her guide will be taking.
- If a Candidate has decided of their own volition to fast (which may not be a requirement), it is good to ascertain this before the ceremony begins, in order to be aware that they may be faint. The Hegemon should employ a strong supporting grip, both to better guide and support the Candidate throughout the ceremony.
- When directing the Candidate to kneel before the Altar, it is often a good idea to guide one of their hands to the top of the Altar to better assist them, and to make them aware that there is something in front of them (to avoid bumping their chin, for example). The Hegemon should help them kneel, and it is also good to have a cushion to kneel upon, given the length of the Obligation.
On a final note, if you are constructing tools for temple or personal use, you should adopt further safety protocols, especially when working with power tools. You can find some safety tips for this on the Golden Dawn Tools blog, hosted by a very talented crafter for the Dublin Temple, Ireland.