Fraternitas Saturni – Stephen E. Flowers (2018)

Just as most of his books, Flowers has revised this book a couple of times and republished it. The book was first published in 1990 as Fire And Ice: The History, Structure And Rituals Of Germany’s Most Influential Modern Magical Order – The Brotherhood Of Saturn. A second edition was published in 1994. For the third edition 2006 (self released on Runa Raven) the title was changed to The Fraternitas Saturni – or Brotherhood Of Saturn: An Introduction To Its History Philosophy And Rituals. This fourth edition is published by Inner Traditions, is again revised and expanded and this title changed again, this time to The Fraternitas Saturni: History, Doctrine, And Rituals Of The Magical Order Of The Brotherhood Of Saturn.

The story behind the book is interesting. When studying in Germany, the author received actual documents of a notorious magical order about which not much had been published, certainly not in another language than German, including history and rituals. There are still people working under the name and Flowers got permission to publish the information. The rituals are not those that are in use nowadays anyway.

The Fraternitas Saturni is (of course) best known for its links with Aleister Crowley and its sex-magical workings. Flowers soon puts things in perspective. In its 33 degree system, sex is only part of one (the 18º). Now the initiation is more sexy than in most esoteric orders and there are private workings involving ritual sex, but it is certainly not so that this was the main focus of the brotherhood.

Flowers sketches the early history of the FS. What started as a joint attempt to start a magical lodge under Aleister Crowley (and the Orde Templi Orientis), immediately broke in pro-Crowley and contra-Crowley factions. Even though the FS was pro and they did use some of Crowley’s ideas, they did not accept his entire philosophy nor his leadership. There has been contact though.

In spite of a stop during WWII, a schism and a reuniting (and two split-offs), the FS has existed for almost a century and is therefor the oldest magical order in Germany. Indeed, in structure aim and partly in philosophy, FS is quite like Freemasonry, but then with an overtly magical tone and much stimulation on its members to explore all kinds of magical systems. Furthermore FS acknowledges the dark side along with the light side. Also scholarly the FS has been active with several periodicals, books, art and what not. FS has never been really big, but they have long been big enough to have lodges and a Grand Lodge just as within Freemasonry.

Flowers’ history and structure part is interesting. His take on the organisation’s philosophy clarifying. The second half of the book is filled with addenda, such as ritual texts and letters. All in all making this fourth edition read-worthy.

I did not have to dig deep to find out that much more can be bought regarding FS (when you read German). There is a publisher called Verlag Geheimes Wissen (‘secret knowing publications’) that has a whole list of well-printed material from the FS, including the periodical “Saturn Gnosis” (which I am reading now). FS also has it’s own publishing house, which mostly sells the other periodical: Blätter für angewandte okkulte Lebenskunst.
Enough to read after Flowers introduction!

2018 Inner Traditions, isbn 1620557215

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