Biography of Desmond Bourke

Desmond Bourke (1918 - 2005) was a key player in nearly every field of British esotericism. Bourke became a 7=4 of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an VIII Degree of A. E. Waite's Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, an Adeptus Maximus of Madelain Montalban's Order of the Morning Star, an Arch Druid of numerous Druidic Orders, a High Grade Freemason, IX degree of Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, a Martinist (Superieur Inconnu), Reaux-Crois, and Chief of the Sovereign Imperium of the Mysteries.

Bourke also became a Gnostic Bishop (multiple affiliations), founded the Hermetic Martinist Order, and guided the merger of the Ancient and Archaological Order of Druids with the Literary and Archaological Order of Druids to form the Universal Druidic Order. (The intimate association between the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Druidry that began with the mutual initiations of S.L. MacGregor Mathers and George Watson MacGregor Reid, continued and deepened under the leadership of Arch Druid and Golden Dawn Adept, Desmond Bourke.) Bourke, who held multiple Golden Dawn and derivative lineages, served in the 1980's and 90's as Praemonstrator of the Serapis temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in London, England. Together with Countess Tamara Bourkoun and Marquis Nicolas Tereschenko, Desmond Bourke was instrumental in keeping numerous derivative Golden Dawn lineages alive despite the publications of Crowley and Regardie.

Desmond Bourke & Pat Zalewski Misrepresentation

Almost immediately following Desmond Bourke's death, Golden Dawn author, Pat Zalewski, began an all out assault on Desmond Bourke's reputation, over the years making wildly contradictory allegations. The timing of this was most suspicious,  having waited until Bourke passed away, so that he could no longer defend himself. Once Bourke was gone, Zalewski  immediately began to allege that he (Zalewksi) was in possession of a purported letter from Desmond Bourke.

Zalewski floated numerous  contradictory stories about this lalleged etter for years. For a time Zalewski alleged that the letter had proven that Bourke was a cheat and a fraud. On other occasions, Zalewski represented that the letter showed that Bourke had been issuing forged Golden Dawn charters. On yet other occasions, Zalewksi represented that the letter showed Bourke denying all involvement with either the Golden Dawn. Apollon Leontas, or the Serapis Golden Dawn temple in London.

In any case, Mr. Zalewksi at length was finally cornered into publishing the actual content of the purported letter. Regarding the authenticity of the letter, we unfortunately still have only Mr. Zalewski's word, which is questionable at best, since he has never published a complete and unaltered facsimile of the letter. We must also bear in mind that the word of Pat Zalewski is not blindly to be trusted about anything. Mr. Zalewski has been proven on numerous occasions to have lied in his books about many things, from the attribution of his personal ideas to former members of Whare Ra, to having also lied about his having been regularly initiated in the Stella Matutina by Jack Taylor, which it turns out Pat Zalewski was not.

In any case, the results of an examination of even the alleged text of this letter are astonishing, as they prove that Pat Zalewski deliberately misrepresented the actual content of the letter all along. In fact, the actual content of this letter, as published by Pat Zalewski, shows nothing at all about any of Mr. Zalewksi's various and mutually contradictory allegations. Instead, the letter merely provides background information about one small arena of Mr. Bourke's substantial esoteric involvement.

Here is the entire content of the alleged letter, as attributed to Desmond Bourke by Pat Zalewksi:

    "Thank you for your letter dated 6th October. My memory is bad (I am now over 85) but I will try and help. One thing is certain: I’ve never had any contact with the Hermes Temple in Bristol. However, your reference to Felkin struck a note. I think Richard Jac de Palatine made such a claim regarding the Order of the True Rosy Cross: though he also claims to have received that Order from America

    As you know I have done some research. Firstly regarding Martinism and secondly about Yarker, both involving Richard. The first led ultimately to the formation of a Martinist Lodge by me, John Emerson, David Walker, and others which led to the formation of the Hermetic Order of Martinists.

    The second led to me acquiring a number of “charters” and things which I wanted for my research and to illustrate my work. However, after I had acquired a large amount of material, I was pre-empted by another study and lost interest. It is these so-called “charters” which may have led to confusion as some included “The  Order of the True Rosy Cross” and recipients may claim to have received an authority from me, which I did not and could not give.
            Three friends from that time may have had my “charters”: - John Fitzpatrick, Howard Doe, and Apollon (?spelling?). John F. is inaccurate. Howard Doe has also received the same sort of things (some but not all through me) from Dr. Crow including he claims the Ancient and Arcane Order of the Rosy Cross. Both have contacts in France.

    Apollon was a member of an active group and expressed interest in my charters. I told him he could have one but do not remember if he accepted the offer, and if he did I do not remember if I wrote a covering letter or MS. I went to one of his meetings in the Neophyte Grade conducted by a lady whose name I forget. I met Pat Zalewski and the one who went to Australia once or perhaps twice in the company of John F. and Howard Doe.

            In my time the True Rosy Cross has only met as a Study Group and not conferred any grades but if I or they did, it could only be valid within that Order. In my opinion initiation can only be conferred by someone who has himself received it in person, which is why I might & could only say that the True Rosy Cross is in the G.D. Tradition or system.
All good wishes
I hope this helps,   

Let us now analyze the actual content of this letter, attributed to Desmond Bourke by Pat Zalewski.

In this regard, Dr. Robert Word writes on alt.magick:

"In the letter alleged to be from Bourke, Bourke allegedly states "Apollon was a member of an active group and expressed interest in my charters.  I told him he could have one . . ."  However, Bourke also states that he is suffering from failing memory, and certain details of the transmission now escape him. In fact, though, in my conversations with Desmond Bourke, his memory was not yet failing, and he recounted in exquisite detail the facts of his GD lineages, and which were identical even in matters of small detail to the account related to me by the members and Chiefs of the London Temple of the Ancient Magical  Order of the Golden Dawn."

"The Zalewski rescension of the alleged letter from Bourke is problematic, as the version produced by him contains typos, and possible omissions.  Indeed, we do not see to whom the letter is addressed, nor the communication to which it is allegedly in response. Another problematic aspect of the letter is Bourke's repeated allusion to memory loss.  Thus, he states, "My memory is bad (I am now over 85) . . . "; ". . . I do not remember if I wrote a covering letter or MS . . ." etc.  Thus, the letter does not deny that Bourke transmitted the lineal authorities for any arcane traditions, but only asserts a loss of memory regarding the details of the transmission.  Indeed, as previously noted, the letter states " . . .Apollon was a member of an active group and expressed interest in my charters.  I told him he could have one . . ."

"Thus, while the letter alludes to loss of memory, and the fact of a transmission, it fails to document fully and correctly the arcane transmissions which did occur.  This clearly does not refer to Golden Dawn lineages, as Pat Zalewksi for years misrepresented. On the contrary, the letter states that " . . .Apollon was a member of an active group and expressed interest in my charters.  I told him he could have one . . ."  and that  "I went to one of his meetings in the Neophyte Grade conducted by a lady whose name I forget."

Interestingly, Desmond Bourke does indeed deny in the letter transmitting an arcane lineage for which in fact Bourke did not possess any authority, and in fact which he did not  transmit.  This is the lineage of the Order of the True Rosy Cross. In reality, the Order of the True Rosy Cross is another and distinct, non Golden Dawn, Rosicrucian group connected with the Duc du Palatine, an associate of Bourke, and for which the connection was that Bourke was merely a Member, not a Chief.  Thus Bourke indeed possessed no authority over this Group. This is the order that Bourke actually denies having transmitted in the letter.

Bourke, does not in this letter, however, in any way deny, that Bourke had transmitted any Golden Dawn transmission to Apollon Leontas of the Serapis temple in London as Pat Zalewkski has falsely elsewhere alleged about the letter for years. Although the authenticity of the alleged letter is impossible to verify unless Pat Zalewski finally comes clean and publishes an actual, signed facsimile of the alleged letter. Meanwhile, it appears that Desmond Bourke actually indeed did write a letter shortly before his death, after the truth had become public knowledge about the transmission of various Golden Dawn lineages to the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega and the Ahathoor Temple No. 7 in Paris from Apollon Leontas and the Serapis Temple of the Ancient Magical  Order of the Golden Dawn in London.

The purported letter also gives the appearance that Desmond Bourke was under substantial duress to recant and deny that this had ever occurred. This pressure likely came from the Supreme Magus of the SRIA (in which Bourke held the IX Degree), who at the time wanted to support not the Alpha et Omega, but rather a rival American Golden Dawn order. Bourke would have been extremely hesitant to make any sort of deliberately false statement about any Golden Dawn authorities he had transmitted to the Serapis temple in London, however, as Bourke was well aware that written charters had been issued, and that the Ahathoor Temple No 7 in Paris, held photocopies that would directly contradict any such denial that Bourke might subsequently make.

What the actual content of Zalewski's alleged Bourke letter actually does show, in any case, is nothing more than how a sly Desmond Bourke got himself out of this predicament by claiming a lapse of memory in regard to Appolon Leontas, the Imperator of the Serapis temple in London, combined with a clear denial having transmitted any authorities regarding an order that has, despite Pat Zalkewski's tenacious misrepresentations, nothing at all to do with the Golden Dawn, namely the True Order of the Rosy Cross.

Following Pat Zalewski's many years of deliberate misrepresentation of the actual content this purported letter, what the above text reveals above all is that Pat Zalewksi is not to be trusted in any whatsoever in any matter concerning Desmond Bourke.