Madeline Montalban, the Magus of St Giles
Madeline Montalban (1910-1982) was an extraordinary woman. She was not an easy person to live with or even to be around, but she was intelligent, very practical, and a true magus.
Over the years an aura of mystery, speculation and myth grew up around Madeline, which, with her typically mercurial personality, she frequently encouraged. As a result, even her closest friends and students sometimes found it difficult to separate the real person from the manufactured legend.
To the general public she was best known for her articles on tarot and astrology that appeared each month in Prediction magazine over a period of almost thirty years. To the practising occultist however, Madeline is better known as the Head of the ‘Order of the Morning Star’ and author of a unique system of angelic magic that is still being taught today.
The ‘Order of the Morning Star’ followed the classic Hermetic tradition. Outwardly it was a simple correspondence course, but through this Madeline gathered about herself a group of people who wished to experience gnosis through their own efforts, guided and helped by their teacher.
Simplicity was the key to the ‘Order of the Morning Star’ and its defining characteristic was that it was not overtly influenced by any of the practitioners or other Orders that proliferated in England in the early and mid-20th century. Many of these were derivative of each other and featured charters, secret masters, and elaborate rituals. Madeline, however, was candid in proclaiming that she read widely using original sources and then synthesised the material to create a workable system of practical magic.
Her lasting impact upon the occult world is essentially two-fold; firstly, she made esoteric subjects, especially tarot and astrology, accessible to the mainstream population. The 32,000 circulation of Prediction magazine was via mainstream newsagents (ref. Tanya Lurhmann, Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft, Harvard University Press, 1989), which delivered previously secret and inaccessible knowledge to a wide and largely non-occult audience.
Esoterically however, Madeline worked to awaken interest in the angel known as the Lightbringer, whom she called Lumiel, and in doing so inspired a generation of occultists to seek out a path towards personal gnosis and enlightenment.
This duality of purpose is one of the characteristics that makes Madeline such an intriguing and important 20th century occultist.
The presentation will look briefly at Madeline’s early life and then examine her occult development, which led to the establishment of the ‘Order of the Morning Star’. It will be illustrated with photos, artwork, and copies of relevant documents.
Julia’s formal study of the occult began in 1971, when she began to attend lectures at the Society of Psychical Research in London. Her interests quickly developed to include tarot, astrology, and other occult traditions such as Wicca, ceremonial magic and traditional witchcraft.
These interests led her towards the Angelic Magic system developed and taught by Madeline Montalban, which inspired research into her life and times and resulted in the publication of her biography in 2012, Madeline Montalban: The Magus of St Giles (Neptune Press, 2012; 2nd ed. 2015). She is also the author of The Witches of Oz (Capall Bann, 1994), and numerous essays.
Julia is an experienced speaker and has presented at numerous occult conferences and events in Europe, Australia, USA and Canada.
She was invited to present on the subject of Madeline Montalban at the Pagan Federation Conference (Netherlands, 2007); the Estoteric Conference (England, 2008); and Pantheacon (USA, 2015).