Become a member of
The Hell Fire Club
FORM A CHAPTER OF THE HELL FIRE CLUB
IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY
‘Sacred to Liberty and Friendship’
The Hell Fire Club was established in 1748 and still exists today.
Membership pack includes self-initiation ritual, introductory booklet,
a personalized certificate, enamel pin badge.
You will be added to an exclusive mailing list
and receive one of our rare limited edition publications ABSOLUTELY FREE.
The image above shows the membership pack with a copy of ‘Secret Symbols of The Hell Fire Club’ inside, but you may choose any subject area for your free book.
Add to basket, on check out please specify in the ‘order notes’
your interests and we will choose a title for you from our exclusive range:
Upon receiving your lifetime membership of the Hell Fire Club you then qualify to apply for membership of the Inner Order, and to establish a Chapter in your own country.
This is a serious step, requiring integrity,
determination and fortitude.
About The Inner Order
Libertati Amicitiae Que Sacra
‘Sacred to Liberty and Friendship’
The Inner Order (or ‘Mystic Order of Theleme’) is an initiating society with four simple ‘degrees’ or stages of initiation, membership is free and the first step towards this Order may be taken as a self-initiation.
Theleme is an ancient spiritual path that seeks to free the spirit, open the heart, grace the mind and strengthen the body.
The Order has a long history and an extraordinary origin. Founded by Sir Francis Dashwood in 1748, the Order is not a secret society but a Union of Friends meeting privately in the Spirit of Truth.
The Order acts as a private organisation devoted to the study and teaching of the mysteries: we hold there to be One Truth behind all the great religious teachings of the world and that there is a method to the Mastery of Life.
Initiating both men and women, we accept members from all backgrounds and of all religious persuasions. The Order makes no distinction between persons whether of race, creed, origin, religious belief nor of anything soever. To us, all are free, worthy, uniquely beautiful and of noble parents.
The Order reaches out to all those whose search for meaning and whose desire for truth transcends the material: we seek no fame or worldly reward but strive only to support those whose deepest desire is attracted to the work of uniting themselves with the spirit.
The Order is composed of serious seekers and requires candidates to possess integrity, compassion, intelligence and determination.
‘By opening your heart to The Inner Order you are joined immediately to a continuous chain of wisdom, strength and power stretching back through centuries. As there is one universal truth behind all religions, so there is one source from which they all derive. This universal truth – the interior organisation of all beings – can be discerned working within the stars, the life of the planet, the individual thought, the atom. The Inner Order is the fount, cup and wine of Truth, whose mystic symbols of pentagram and hexagram express both the unity of creation and the path of humanities possible evolution. The Order, being a spiritual order, not a material one, recognises only those qualities which come as gifts on the spiritual path. The Inner Order is neither an intellectual nor philosophical enterprise, rather it is a devotional and practical path towards higher understanding. The student begins with the feminine divine: just as one’s own truth grows and evolves, so does one’s place within The Inner Order, it is an ever-expanding circle whose circumference is everywhere and at whose centre is a path leading to our hearts.’
from: ‘Mystical Theleme’.
The Nature of The Inner Order
The Order exists to prepare candidates for Initiation into the Mysteries of Life, with no charges for membership or initiation. The Order maintains an ancient tradition of equality for all regardless of race, religion, gender etc.
The Order teaches by example, by symbol and ritual, by prayer and by inner purification. The Four Degrees of The Order contain the secrets of the four stages of the mystic way, from novice to master, through the realization of the True Self.
Within the Order there are three treasures, one is ‘The Treasure of Princes’ (known more generally as ‘The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage’). This sublime ritual of the magic of light was known to the circle of Sir Francis Dashwood through the Hebrew copy now at the Bodleian Library.
This Hebrew version came through the hands of Oxford Hebrew Poetry Professor Robert Lowth whose own study of Biblical prophets and pagan poets (‘De Sacra Poesi Hebraeorum’ of 1754) is still read in theological colleges today.
Lowth was a friend and confidante of Sir Francis Dashwood, writing to him in a voluminous correspondence concerning his observations of pagan temples at Herculaneum. His translation of the Book of Isaiah is considered one of the best ever made.
Sir Francis Dashwoods daughter Rachel Francis Antonina (died 1830) took up a study of Hebrew and the writings of Cornelius Agrippa (whose ‘Three Books of Occult Philosophy’ was given her by her father) a past time which earned her the title ‘The Infidel Dashwood’.
Upon the so-called ‘Cellar Book’ owned by the original Hell Fire Club is a sketch of Round Tar Island, a small area of land in the Thames just off the shore not far from Medmenham Abbey. The sketch shows two small huts or ‘lodges’ which correspond to the structures described in the magical operation taught by Abramelin.
Bishop Robert Lowth and the Abramelin formula
The True Self is within, it is a yearning like a small flame in the dark, flickering ever upwards, slowly warming everything around it, turning all things into its own nature.
Still the body, silence the inner voice, withdraw from words and images, gather yourself up in silence waiting, waiting…
Here in the sixfold centre, here within the fortress of the One, here is the place of your meeting.
Seated or lying down, in a set posture or merely poised between breaths, moving, dancing, circling the cosmos: the inner flame may be equally tended.
Turning thought from the outer senses, inwards ever inwards back beyond memory, to the beginnings of self, seek the furthest point.
Within our earliest childhood memory, before there ever crept upon us the concerns of the world, here, here is the sanctuary of the heart!
From there look back, back into the further past, memory of feeling, memory of breathing, long, long before the eyes captured a glimpse of day.
In this quiet, in this deep stillness sits the Throne of Being, the Seat of the One whose name, whose number, whose sum is One.
Like a circle of flowers around your stillness is this name of the One written, the leaves and petals curling out the sounds of its letters:
One is the Beginning of All;
One the True Nature of Being;
One into which all Identity Dissolves.
History of The Inner Order
Saint Francis of Wycombe in the Habit of a Monk
The Order traces its history back to the middle of the 18th century, founded by Sir Francis Dashwood and was known to the outer world as ‘The Hell Fire Club’. Drawing upon Italian and French sources The Order established its symbolic temples, gardens and an ‘Abbey of Theleme’ at West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom.
The Orders copy of ‘Chrysal’ 1764, once owned by George Whitehead, inscribed ”July 24 1769 The gift of ye Author” with a list of names of the Hell Fire Club membership some of whom were Inner Order initiates.
Composed of Four Degrees, ‘Guest’, ‘Member’, ‘Steward’, ‘Prior’, The Order teaches that all men and women may become a likeness of the divine, unique, harmonious, perfect.
The Order has many unique features due to its peculiar history, architecture and legends, yet it resonates with many esoteric traditions including those of the Qabalah, Rosicrucianism, Alchemy, as well as the eastern schools of Yoga, Sufism, the traditions of Witchcraft and many of the modern esoteric orders.
West Wycombe: The Temple of Music
|Meeting secretly first at the Chapter Room in Medmenham Abbey (a medieval foundation originally built by the Knight Templar Hugh de Bolbec), The Order later moved to Dashwood’s estate at West Wycombe, meeting occasionally within the upper rooms of Dashwood’s house or more famously within the labyrinth of caves dug under the hill.|
B.A.P.H.O.M.E.T. with portrait of Sir Francis Dashwood and the Stewards Jewel: an Astrological Mystery
Meetings at The Hell Fire Caves at West Wycombe
The ‘Hell Fire Caves’ at West Wycombe are a strange labyrinth of caves dug into the hillside underneath the Church of St. Lawrence and the ‘Abbey of Theleme’ which Dashwood built later in 1763.
To the casual visitor, the caves are a folly or gothic extravagance, to the initiated eye these caves display many secrets. Following almost exactly the twists and turns of the caves described in Rabelais ‘Oracle’ (1564), we see a complex blend of ancient classical mythology, mystery religions and Grail Romance.
Within our Order, these caves are the physical manifestation of ‘The Prophetic Riddle of Merlin’ which is an intricate allegorical poem containing alchemical allusions.
In practice, it becomes a highly developed discipline of self-development involving sacred geometry, astrology, tarot imagery and meditation.
‘On the scarlet thread, the knots are seven…’
|With the death of Sir Francis Dashwood, The Order activities fell into abeyance, with only his daughter, Rachel Frances Antonina Dashwood Lee and Sir Francis Dashwood’s physician Benjamin Bates, maintaining the traditions up to 1830.|
Rachel Frances (‘The Infidel’) Antonina Dashwood Lee
|The Orders teachings would have passed completely beyond the veil had it not been for the descendants of members continuing to tell stories of its legends for the next hundred years in the village taverns and inns of Buckinghamshire.|
Church and ‘Abbey of Theleme’ at West Wycombe 1765
View of The Abbey of Theleme by Charles Lenormant 1840
Drawing upon late medieval designs for an ‘Abbey of Theleme’ (a community of free and enlightened people), Sir Francis Dashwood built a hexagonal brick and flint stone structure upon the hill at West Wycombe. Dashwood’s design is influenced directly by the description of such an ‘Abbey’ in Francois Rabelais and the caves system which extends directly below the hill is based upon a cave system in Rabelais book known as ‘The Oracle’.
Both structures, along with the surviving smaller temples, inscriptions and historical details, all bear an important symbolic role within The Order – the preservation of these traditions makes The Order unique amongst esoteric movements.
Within our Order, this six-sided ‘Abbey of Theleme’ takes the form of a meditative technique beginning as observation of the self and culminating in a connection with the Inner Guide or Higher Self.
An Alchemical Cipher
‘By water pass Five Pyramids to the Golden City’
By 1940 the traditional symbolism of The Order was rediscovered by artist and poet Maxwell Armfield whose interest in the occult awakened upon moving to West Wycombe shortly before the death of his wife Constance. From 1941 until his death in 1972, Armfield wrote numerous small pamphlets and esoteric works (sometimes under the name ‘Mayananda’) which show the influence of the strange caves at West Wycombe and the alchemical symbolism of The Order in particular:
The Keys of Hell and Heaven
I give you a gold and silver key;
keep them for me when I depart
and wear them always at your throat
on a scarlet thread
when I am dead.
They are the keys of head and heart.
If you count them, you will see,
on the scarlet thread, the knots are seven,
the way being intricate and remote
from the Silver Key to the Key of Gold.
And the fourth knot doth a Rose enfold,
for the knots are the keys of Hell and Heaven.
Maxwell Ashby Armfield (‘Mayananda’) 1947
The Phoenix Nest
In 1994 (22 years after the death of Mayananda) at a private ceremony in Bassetbury Manor, The Order was formally re-established by the current Prior on new lines, to include not only the traditional teachings but also the esoteric discoveries of Maxwell Armfield and those influences of the major esoteric currents which were in harmony with The Orders main objective:
‘The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel’
‘The Hell Fire Club’
For the past twenty years, The Inner Order has remained a discrete and private organisation whilst operating an experimental ‘outer court’ or public body known to the world as ‘The Hell Fire Club’.
This ‘Hell Fire Club’ maintained this visible form by hosting events and book publishing, eventually producing the book ‘Secret Symbols of the Hell Fire Club’ which gives a broad history of the organisation with some basic insights into its teachings and symbolism.
The Inner Teachings of The Order with their respective Degree Rituals have remained unpublished.
XXII : The Degrees
Inner Temple Lamp of the IV°
The Inner Order formally announced its presence in the year 2020 (XXII), precisely 22 years after it’s current Prior attained the Fourth Degree.
Known simply as ‘The Order’, or as ‘The Mystic Society of Theleme’ it is often signified by the numeral XXII, these figures are carved upon the wall of the caves at West Wycombe and many have guessed at their meaning.
The Degrees of The Order introduces the student to all the major elements of the spiritual and occult quest, through the unique relationship between symbolism, architecture and story, The Order weaves the individual into a pattern reflecting the land, the heavens and one’s individual destiny.
The I° seeks to build a foundation for the candidate which joins together the broader field of cosmic influences, the traditions of The Order and the inner signature of one’s spirit.
The II° tests the aspirants resolve in the realm of practical magical work on the lower planes. The upper two degrees form the main focus of The Orders work known as The Sacred Magic or ‘The Knowledge and Conversation of The Holy Guardian Angel’.
The Order focuses upon this aspect of the spiritual life commonly known as ‘The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel’ (K.C.H.G.A.) to an extraordinary degree. This set of techniques is often approached as either a retreat or ceremony performed by an individual for the purpose of contacting or unveiling ones True or Higher Self.
Whilst the first two degrees of The Order seek to lay down unique foundation stones in the candidates understanding and practical work, the third and fourth degree impart and teach the precise techniques relating to K.C.H.G.A. which are unique to our Order.
Within the III° an aspirant is given access to The Orders traditional symbolism and teachings regarding ‘The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel’.
In the IV° the aspirant is entrusted with The Inner Orders unique work in this particular science of The Sacred Magic both as it has descended from the traditions of The Order itself and as it has come down to us from the Theban magicians of Egypt.
Chapter Houses of The Inner Order
Oratory of the III° : the Jewel of the Chapter House
Chapter Houses are established to support the Work of The Order. Decorated and furnished to evoke The Order’s ancient place of worship at Medmenham Abbey, each Chapter House engages in a continual cycle of prayer and remembrance reflecting the movements of the heavens.
The Order is headed by a Prior (IV°) who channels and guides the ceremonial work of the degrees; Stewards (III°) who guard and teach the traditions of The Order; Members (II°) who bring into operation the practical techniques of The Order, and the Guests (I°) who maintain an ever-open doorway between The Order and the varied spiritual teachings of the world.
A working temple or ‘Chapter House’ of The Order, modelled upon the original Chapter Room at Medmenham Abbey, may contain social meeting rooms, a member library as well as the actual ‘Chapter Room’ where initiations take place. Arranged to represent the influences of the heavens as well as the elements, the ‘Chapter Room’ most especially contains and displays the ancient symbols of The Order in all its degrees.
The Jewel of each Chapter House is the Oratory of the Third Degree. From here The Orders connection to the upper worlds, the Orders of Angels, and to the outer world is made.
The Chapter Room with all its symbolism creates a ‘Temple of the Triumphs of the Soul’ by which the candidate is made perfect.
A Temple of The Triumphs: the Hell Fire Club floorcloth
The Inner Order and other Esoteric Societies
The Inner Order is an independent spiritual society that derives its traditions from ancient Theleme, that is the historic esoteric interpretation of the traditions, architecture and legends at Medmenham and West Wycombe, as well as their origins in the history and literature of spiritual teachers the world over.
The Order recognises that all esoteric traditions have a common core (the search for Truth) and that in this respect, and this respect alone, there can be both connections and pathways between The Order and other teachings. The Order has always had its own unique connection to the spiritual core of humanity and whilst remaining in amity with other orders, our Order derives neither its traditions nor its authority from any other organisation soever.
Many initiates of The Order have also been initiates of other traditions: Freemasonry, the Rosicrucian Orders, various traditions within paganism and Witchcraft, The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn, the A⸫A⸫ etc.
The Order, being a spiritual order, not a material one, recognises only those qualities which come as gifts on the spiritual path. The Order is neither an intellectual nor philosophical enterprise, rather it is a devotional and practical path towards a higher understanding.
Recognising the virtue of all truth, The Order prefers none specific but rather seeks to pass from many truths to One Truth.
Seeking wisdom from all teachings The Order takes up each sacred book and draws as much from it as may be harmonious, then leaves them down again – as The Order is ennobled by its own virtue it needs no scripture but the heavens reflected in the soul.
The Order shows much, speaks little, listens always, delights in Work and embraces Silence.