That Bizarre Society In 'The Irregulars' Is Based On A Real Thing
Netflix's The Irregulars does not precisely follow the Sherlock Holmes source material from which it's drawn. The original "Baker Street Irregulars" of the Holmes books help Sherlock with cases such as A Study In Scarlet and The Sign Of Four. But none of the episodes in the series are based on either of these famous mysteries. But that doesn't mean the show doesn't include other historically accurate details, like the belief in the occult or secret societies like the Golden Dawn. But what is the Golden Dawn in The Irregulars? Unlike some of the other horrors these teens track down, these folks were the real deal.
Warning: Spoilers for The Irregulars Season 1 follow. The first two episodes of The Irregulars delve into myths like the Tooth Fairy and tales of horror, like packs of murderous birds. But when Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock's older brother) turns up, the series seems to take a turn for sticking to the source material for once. Mycroft is a top government agent in the Holmes novels, one who keeps a sharp eye on his brother and everyone who comes into contact with him.
But it's not long before the series wanders off on its own path again. Here, Mycroft is assigned to the Home Office's version of The X-Files, and he's much less a competent spy than a man who has fallen in with a bunch of occultists. Moreover, as Bea and Jessie discovered, his new set of friends are the kind that put on ceremonial robes and start acting out bizarre rituals, part of a secret society called "the Golden Dawn."
But unlike most of the other stories in the season, the Golden Dawn was an actual secret society from the Victorian era. The full name is "the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn," and they were founded in 1887, right around when The Irregulars is set. Co-founded by Freemasons, this group was dedicated to paranormal occurrences, assuming they were somehow connected to Christianity's mystical side. The group studied every text, from the Kabbalah to astrology, working out how to achieve things from alchemy to time travel.
Unlike most similar groups, the Dawn was surprisingly open-minded for its time, allowing both men and women to be members. Those who had just joined started as "Neophytes," working up to the highest rank, the "Ipsissimus."
In the show, the group diagnoses Jessie as a "True Ipsissimus," which referenced their own ranking system. Golden Dawn members believed that someone who achieves the rank of Ipsissimus is someone whose mind is fully open. In practice, that designation didn't mean psychic powers (which is how the show defines the word.) Instead, it meant the member has achieved "the highest or most intense self."
Of course, the series goes on to bring in supernatural elements, with one member of the group staging dead bodies as tarot cards. Those stagings then cast magic spells on anyone who sees them. None of that is believed to happen with the IRL group. Golden Dawn members practiced tarot, but not to such an extent as to start randomly executing people. However, the series' mix of fact and fiction (and Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None-style murder mystery) makes this one of the most fascinating episodes of the season.
All eight episodes of The Irregulars Season 1 are streaming on Netflix.