Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
View your shopping cart Shopping Cart | My Account | Help | Become a Fan on Facebook Become a Fan | Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us | Watch Us on YouTube Watch Us | Subscribe to our RSS Feeds Subscribe
Browse ProductsAuthorsArticlesBlogsEncyclopediaNewslettersAffiliate ProgramContact UsBooksellers
Advanced Search
ENCYCLOPEDIA
Glossary
What's New
Most Popular
List of Articles

Email Exclusives
Sign up to receive special offers and promotions from Llewellyn.

Get the Latest Issue of New Worlds

July/August 2014 Issue

New Worlds Catalog

Get the FREE app for your tablet and mobile device. Now available in the iTunes Store and the Google Play Store

Also available as a PDF File.

Click for more information about New Worlds or to receive issues via mail.


The Llewellyn Encyclopedia
Print this Term Print this Article

Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers

This article was written by John Michael Greer on April 01, 2005
posted under Mathers, MacGregor

English occultist, 1854-1918. Born in London and educated at Bedford Grammar School, he came from a background of poverty and never attended university. He spent his early adult years living with his mother in Bournemouth, working as a clerk and beginning his lodge involvements with his initiation into Freemasonry in 1877. In 1882 he became a member of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, a Masonic Rosicrucian group whose leading light at that time was William Wynn Westcott, a rising star in English occult circles.

In 1885 he moved to London and became a member of the Hermetic Society founded by Anna Kingsford. The same year saw the publication of his most significant book, The Kabbalah Unveiled, a translation of parts of the Zohar with accompanying commentary. By this time he was working with Westcott on the development of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn which would go on to become the most influential occult order of its time.

Well before the time the Golden Dawn was formally founded in 1888, Mathers had begun to insist that he was descended from the MacGregors, the outlaw "nameless clan" of Scottish Highlands legend, and adopted the title Comte de Glenstrae, which he claimed was conferred on an ancestor by Louis XV of France. His claims to Scottish ancestry have found little support from actual research: the list of known aliases of MacGregors does not include the name Mathers, and no trace of his title has surfaced in French records.

In 1890 he married Mina Bergson, the sister of French philosopher Henri Bergson, and was made curator of the Horniman Museum—which was, not coincidentally, owned by the father of fellow Golden Dawn initiate Annie Horniman. Mathers’ unstable behavior lost him that position by 1892, however, and he and Mina (who changed her name to the more Celtic-sounding Moina) moved to Paris. Once there, Mathers became increasingly dictatorial and erratic [in his control of the Golden Dawn], and Westcott’s resignation from the order in 1897 left Mathers free of any outside control.

The result was a series of spiraling crises that ended in the open revolt of most of the order in 1900. Caught off guard, Mathers was able to preserve a fraction of the original order under the name Alpha et Omega. The defection of Aleister Crowley, an initiate of the order who had backed Mathers during the revolt and then turned on him in 1904, came as another blow.

In his last years, Mathers continued to run the Alpha et Omega, and also wrote and performed a series of public rituals, the Rites of Isis, which attracted favorable attention from the Paris occult scene as well as the cultural avant-garde. He died in the great influenza epidemic of 1918.

In western ceremonial magick, there is often a tendency to view a magickal operation as something that is at odds with the natural order of the universe. This is very much the core of the western mindset, where nature is something external to oneself to be "conquered." Human individuality and the Will of the magician are thought to be somehow... read this article
Casting a Circle for Clairvoyant Readings
The Moon and Rainfall
6 Truths About Enlightenment
High Magick & Initiatic Orders
Planetary Meridians: 10 Gateways to Empowered Intuition

Most recent posts:
May I Speak to the President?
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Jean-Louis de Biasi, author of Secrets and Practices of the Freemasons, The Divine Arcana of the Aurum...

Using Signposts
This is a good technique if you are reading for yourself or for someone who is willing to be interactive with you and the cards. I've been working...

Traveling with Spirits
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Gregory Peters, author of the new Magickal Union of East and West. I enjoy traveling, and will fly...




Llewellyn's 2015 Astrological Calendar Llewellyn's 2015 Astrological Calendar
82nd Edition of the World's Best Known, Most Trusted Astrology Calendar

By: Llewellyn
Price: $14.99 US,  $16.99 CAN
Llewellyn's 2015 Daily Planetary Guide Llewellyn's 2015 Daily Planetary Guide
Complete Astrology At-A-Glance

By: Llewellyn
Price: $12.99 US,  $14.95 CAN
Llewellyn's 2015 Witches' Datebook Llewellyn's 2015 Witches' Datebook
By: Llewellyn
Price: $10.99 US,  $12.50 CAN
Llewellyn's 2015 Sun Sign Book Llewellyn's 2015 Sun Sign Book
Horoscopes for Everyone!

By: Kim Rogers-Gallagher
Price: $11.99 US,  $13.95 CAN
Llewellyn's 2015 Moon Sign Book Llewellyn's 2015 Moon Sign Book
Conscious Living by the Cycles of the Moon

By: Llewellyn
Price: $11.99 US,  $13.95 CAN