Madeline Montalban was an accomplished occultist and ceremonial magician, an astrologer, writer, journalist and teacher who co-founded her own esoteric school of high magic called the “Order of the Morning Star” (OMS), through which she propagated her own form of Luciferianism.
Madeline was born in January 8, 1910 in Blackpool, Lancashire as Madeline Sylvia Royals. her father Willie Royals was an insurance agent while her mother Marion Neruda (nee´ Shaw) was a tailor’s daughter from Oldham, Lancashire. Her parents married on the 28th June 1909, which was followed by Madeline’s birth seven months later. Little is known about her early life, schooling and education etc, although she appears to have had a strained relationship with her parents. During her youth she was afflicted with a virulent strain of the polio disease, which left her with a lifelong withered leg and a pronounced limp. As a child she suffered from ill-health and led a lonely existence with only the company of strict parents. According to her biography (published in 2012 by Julia Philips,) during bouts of illness and while bedridden and convalescing, she took to reading literature and enjoyed the works of Bulwer Lytton, H. Rider Haggard and E.T.A. Hoffman. She also avidly read the Bible, particularly texts from the Old Testament, and later said that trying to understand the esoteric meanings of its myths eventually led her to the occult path. She believed they contained secret messages, a theme that became central to her later Luciferian beliefs. In her opinon the Old Testament was a book of magic and the New Testament a book of mysticism.
In the early 1930s, she left Blackpool, and moved south to London. Although she made the acquaintance of many of London’s leading occultists such as Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare, Kenneth Grant and Gerald Gardner, she decided not to follow any particular path or leader and develop her own system of magic. Here in London she in 1933 wrote her first article on astrology for the popular London Life magazine entitled The Stars in the Heavens. She continued to write for that magazine until 1953, during which time she used a number of pseudonyms including: Madeline Alvarez, Dolores del Castro, Michael Royals, Regina Norcliff and Athene Deluce. From February 1947, she also wrote a regular astrological column entitled You and Your Stars under the name of Nina de Luna. Her main pseudonym “Madeline Montalban” was based upon the name of her favourite film star, the Mexican actor Ricardo Montalbán.
By the end of the 1930’s, Madeline was living in Grays Inn Road, Holborn, where in 1939 she married a press photographer George Edward North. Madeline bore him a daughter, Rosanna, but their relationship later deteriorated and he eventually left her for another woman. She would later inform friends that during the Second World War her husband had served as an officer in the Royal Navy while she served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS). Gerald Gardner later claimed that when he first met Madeline during the war she was wearing a WRNS uniform and that she allegedly worked as a “personal clairvoyant and psychic advisor” to Lord Louis Mountbatten.
After the war, Madeline continued to work as a writer/journalist in London using an array of pseudonyms, and from February 1947 under the name of Nina del Luna, she penned a regular astrological column in the London Life magazine entitled You and Your Stars. She also undertook freelance work and in the late 1940’s was approached by Michael Houghton (aka Michael Juste) to edit a manuscript for Gerald Gardner’s novel High Magic’s Aid, later published in 1949. Houghton owned the famous Atlantis bookshop in Museum Street, London (located opposite the British Museum), which he had founded in 1922. He had a temple in the basement of the shop from where he ran his own magical group “the Order of Hidden Masters”. Madeline by this time had become a regular visitor to the shop.
In August 1953, Madeline stopped writing for the London Life magazine and from then until her death in 1982 wrote articles on Astrology, Magic and Tarot for one of the country’s leading esoteric magazine Prediction. Starting with a series on using tarot cards, from May 1960 she was employed to write a regular astrological column. Through her articles in Prediction, Madeline soon began receiving correspondence from people seeking further occult information, some she invited to meet at her home and they became her private students. In 1956, she co-founded the “Order of the Morning Star” (OMS) with her partner Nicolas Heron. After her relationship with Heron ended in 1964, Madeline returned to London and for awhile occupied a flat at 8 Holly Hill in Hampstead, which was owned by the husband of one of her OMS students, the Latvian exile and poet Velta Snikere.
In 1966 she moved again and settled into a flat at Queen Alexandra Mansions, 3 Grape Street in St. Giles Circus, Holborn, from where she continued to run and develop the OMS. Grape Street is a few yards walk from the famous Atlantis bookshop and the British Museum. The building, with turrets, balconies and leaded windows the flat seemed out of place in modem London. Michael Howard recounts “Inside this otherworldly effect was heightened by the flat’s unusual antique furnishings and glassfronted cabinets and bookcases full of occult curios and arcane books dating back to the 19th century. Candles and incense were continually burning adding to the atmosphere. It was the most haunted place I have ever been in. Staying the night in the guest room was always a daunting experience, as you lay awake until the early hours listening to ghostly footsteps padding down the hall and the doorknobs rattling. During the day the place was alive with elementals, that you could just vaguely glimpse out of the corner of your eye as small darting shadows, as Madeline was not one for banishing spirits. She took it all in her stride and was ever youthful.”
She said that much of her occult knowlege had been gained by “years of study in dusty libraries and museums.” The key to her success as a magus and occult teacher was how she managed to synthesis ancient Chaldean stellar lore with Egyptian mythology, the medieval sorcery of the grimoires, the natural magic of the Renaissance and a Luciferian gnosis. Her primary major sources for her magical system were the Chaldean Oracles, the Picatrix and Corpus Hermeticum, the Heptameron of Peter d’Abano, Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy; Sir Francis Barratt’s The Magus, The Key of Solomon, The Book of Abramelin the Mage and the Enochian system of Dr John Dee. Much of her practical magical and occult work was similar to the traditional practices of the old cunning folk. It used the minimum of magical props – a candle, some incense, a relevant Tarot card or two, some magical sigils and an incantation written on virgin parchment in one of the magical alphabets, and a few coins.
Describing herself as a “pagan”, Montalban’s personal faith was Luciferian in basis, revolving around the veneration of Lucifer, or Lumiel, whom she considered to be a benevolent angelic being who had aided humanity’s development. Within her Order, she emphasised that her followers discover their own personal relationship with the angelic beings, including Lumiel. Montalban considered astrology to be a central part of her religious worldview, and always maintained that one could be a good magician only if they had mastered astrology. Her correspondence course focused around the seven planetary bodies that were known in the ancient world and the angelic beings that she associated with them: Michael (Sun), Gabriel (Moon), Samael (Mars), Raphael (Mercury), Sachiel (Jupiter), Anael (Venus) and Cassiel (Saturn). Each of these beings was in turn associated with certain days, hours, minerals, plants, and animals, each of which could be used in the creation of talismans that invoked the angelic power. Montalban disliked the theatrical use of props and rites in ceremonial magic, such as that performed by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, preferring a more simplistic use of ritual. Madeline believed a lot of nonsense was talked about initiations into this or that magical lodge or high degree. She believed that the most important initiations did not take place behind the doors of humanmade temples. To her life was the Great Initiation and that is why we were incarnated on Earth as it was a
training school for souls.
Madeline passed to spirit on January 11, 1982 after a long struggle against cancer. This condition had been helped by her love of Woodbine cigarettes and cheap Spanish wine, but Madeline was a down-to-earth person with human flaws like anyone else. She once told a journalist: “I cannot stand those so-called ‘magicians’ who treat the whole thing as an intellectual exercise – not smoking, not drinking, being strictly vegetarian . . . that is nonsense. Magic should make life easier. That’s what it is all about!”
When she died in 1982, copyright to all her writings and the OMS correspondence course passed on to her daughter Rosanna. After her funeral, Rosanna approached occult author Jo Sheridan, had worked for Prediction from 1959 through the early sixties, during which time she had edited many of Madeline’s articles, and asked if she and her husband Alfred Douglas (a student of Montalban, author of the book The Tarot: the origins, meaning and uses of the cards, a work heavily inspired by Madeline’s teachings) would be willing to continue her mother’s work. As well as being authors themselves, Jo and Alfred had the practical skills needed to keep the School and correspondence course going. Jo and Alfred happily agreed and a contract was drawn up, modelled on a standard publisher’s contract, under which they were given exclusive “World Rights” to publish Madeline’s correspondence course. There was also a written agreement between them and the executors of Madeline’s Will, authorising them to publish Madeline’s works.
In the 1980s, Jo Sheridan (aka Patricia Douglas) opened an alternative therapy centre situated in Church Street, Stoke Newington, North London, before she and her husband Alfred retired to Rye, East Sussex in 2002, from where she ran the OMS correspondence course until her death in 2011. Since then Alfred Douglas has run the OMS and its correspondence course, which continues today.
In his 2002 article on Madeline for the Cauldron, Michael Howard mistakeningly mentioned that the Order she had started did not survive her death. However he noted “The Order of the Morning Star still operates on the inner planes. As such its ‘temple not made with human hands’ can be contacted in the astral realms by those with an open mind and an open heart who sincerely seek the mysteries of the Elder Gods and
contact with Lord Lumiel and his ‘fallen angels’. This is Madeline’s legacy to modem occultism and one for which she will always be remembered long after the last of her earthly students has passed to the Land of the Summer Stars.”
Michael Howard; Teachings of the Light: Madeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star; published in the Luminous Stone: Lucifer in Western Esotericism editied by Daniel Schulke and Michael Howard; Three Hands Press 2016
Julia Phillips; Madeline Montalban, the Magus of St. Giles; Neptune Press 2012